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Chronic Pain-network
Your First Visit!
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Seven Pain Management Strategies:
Unfourtnatley, chronic pain patients around the world are faced with a medical community which has yet to make up it's mind on the management of non-malignant pain. Some physicians routinely deny pain medicatioins to those with out a cancer diagnosis, while others understand that pain left untreated is one of the worst things a physician can do. Just because you look good on the outside does not mean that you are healthy on the inside. I get so tired of hearing " Will you look good". Many a family, and a friendship has been broken up because of this attitude.

It is essential that those who treat pain patients work diligently to educate the patient and family about pain management alternatives, and work continously to build their personal coping skills. The pain patient should be prepared to make a case, via the use of a pain log. As a pain patient, the last thing that you should do is walk into your doctors office and demand medications. Your job is to bring in information which will help the doctor understand just what has been happening with your body. Remember you know your body better than anyone else, and can tell when their is something wrong with it. The following information/questions will help you to prepare for your first visit. The first visit is the most important moment that you will have with your physician, because it is here that you have to make your case and prove that you really hurt, and decide if this doctor will treat you chronic pain agressively!

1) Don't suffer in Silence. Be a active patient and seek treatment for your pain. Make sure that you physician agrees that pain reductiion is one of his/her goals.

2) Ask your physician what actions which he/she will take that will specifically relieve your pain. Is it a short or long term strategy? How does it work? How long should the treatment last? When is your follow-up appointment to discuss your progrress and/or the renewal of any prescritpions? Is it reasonable? Are you comfortable? How should you ask for help in the interim, if you should need it? Also ask for phone numbers, pager numbers, and a emergancy phone number in case you need help after hours, or on the weekend? Who will take over if they are out of town?

3) Make sure that you completely understand and agree with your phsicians plans. Do you understand how it is supposed to work? Do you have a plan of action?? Are you comfortable with this approach? Do you have any concerns? Ask for his/her reasonins behind pursuing the treatment.

4) Make sure that your doctor believes that you are having pain. "If you doctor doesn't believe in your pain, you won't get treated." "Chronic pain patients esperience unique challenges because they can often do normal life activities...they just do them with pain." This certainly doesn't mean that they don't have pain. Unfortunately, many doctors will not trust a patient's report of pain and will look for 'signs' of pain before offering treatment. That patient will soon learn that they have to 'act out' to get medication. This is not a therapeutic alliance. If your doctor doesn't believe that you are in pain you need to find another doctor!!"

5) Empower yourself by learning about your illness/injury. Teach those around you, so they will understand. Most improtantly, select a doctor who will be your partner as you both work together to explore pain management options.

6) Learn about chronic pain and the various techniques for treating pain. Be willing to inprove your own personal coping skills! It's a partnership after all.. and you have to take responsibility for your skills when you are away from your doctor.

7) Learn to ask for help! "You have the right to relief!" When you leave your doctors office, make sure that you both have a claer understanding of what you will be doing to control you pain, and what your options are if you're pain becomes worse. Learn to distinguish your pain levels on a scale of 1-10..and share them with your doctor. Make an agreement with your phsician that you will help him/her in trying various long term pain management strategies, if he/she will help you if you are in a crisis and need immediate short term relief. With you doctor, don't forget to make an emergency plan in advance..so that you know what your options are if pain hits during the weekend or on vacations.

Important Things to Remember:

Remember when you go for your first visit to write down the things you want to ask and bring:

- A pain log in which you keep up with the times of the day that the pain is worse, how long did it last, how many days are you in pain, and on a scale of one to ten rate your pain.
- Also keep up all the medications that you have taken, and how they effected you.
- A list of all the drugs that you are allergic, or have reactions to.
- Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any doctors that you have seen.
- Any records from your doctor such as tests, procedures, treatments, etc...
- List of any questions that you may have.

Remember that your first visit is the most important. Make a list of all the things that you want to ask the doctor,and bring any information that will help to prove what you are telling the doctor. Remember that he/she does not know you in most cases, so the more information that you can bring to prove that you are hurting the better the chances are for you to get off to a good start with your physician.

I can not stress enough that communication between you and your doctor is one of the most important tools that you have to work with.

Web-site
Pain Management and IC, by Dr. Daniel Brookoff,
http://www.ic-network.com/handbook/brookoff.html