The emergence of pain management, as a specialty, has been a godsend in recent years to patients who haven't been able to find relief by working with their GPs. As with any other medical specialty, pain management works best when doctors and patients are able to establish a solid relationship built on trust and transparency. The relationship between pain doctor and patient is a sacred one.
It is not uncommon for chronic pain patients to ask for a referral to a pain management clinic after finding no relief in the GPs office. This isn't a knock on GPs, by the way. They have enough to deal with on daily basis. They cannot be expected to be experts in everything. As for pain management doctors, pain medicine is their specialty.
From the patient's perspective, maximizing pain medicine's benefits is all about making the most of that relationship with the pain doctor. Here are our suggestions for doing just that:
Pain is a very subjective and personal thing. We pain management doctors cannot run any diagnostic tests to figure out how patients are feeling. We rely almost exclusively on the conversations we have in the office. That leads us to the very first tip: tell us everything.
We are relying on you to give us every detail related to your condition. Tell us how you feel in the moment. Tell us what triggers pain, what you do to help alleviate it, and anything else that could possibly help us better understand what you are feeling.
Not only do we want you to tell us everything, but we also want you to ask us any questions that are on your mind. Your questions serve two purposes. First, they give you the opportunity to better understand your condition and why you feel the way you do. Second, they help us better understand where you are coming from.
Questions lay the groundwork for good conversations. So ask away. We will do our best to give you straightforward answers. If you ask a question for which we don't have an answer, we will make every effort to find the answer before your next visit.
Patient records are tremendous help to us. If we had our way, every chronic pain patient would keep meticulous daily records relating to everything about their health and pain experiences. Records provide us with invaluable data that helps us make good recommendations. You can help us be better at what we do by writing things down. Just be sure to bring your records to each visit.
Last but not least is heeding our recommendations. Know that we understand you get frustrated when you feel like your pain doctor is relying on the 'let's try it and see' approach. But the very personal nature of pain sometimes leaves us with no other choice.
We offer recommendations based on our conversations with you. We combine our observations with what we know about pain medicine to steer you in what we believe is the right direction. But we don't always get it right. Still, we need you to heed our recommendations and then get back to us with the results. That is how we work together to find the relief you are hoping for.
We take our relationships with patients seriously. We hope you take the relationship with your pain doctor just a seriously. When patient and doctor build a relationship on mutual trust and transparency, good things happen. That is ultimately the end goal.