Strategies for Talking with Health Professionals
Judith A. Paice, PhD, RN, a member of the AmericanChronic Pain Association's advisory board, has outlinedstrategies for patients with chronic pain to use when talkingwith physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and otherhealth care providers. Many individuals with chronic pain havevast experience with the health care system. Describing painhistory in a thorough and chronological manner may be difficult,particularly if the individual is nervous about meeting anew physician. Here are strategies to help patients:
•Record pain history: Write down the events that led to thechronic pain, as well as surgeries or other therapies thathave been used to treat the pain and the dates theyoccurred. Also, carefully describe the pain (eg, location,intensity) and list the medicines, nerve blocks, physicaltherapies, and other interventions used to manage the pain.
•Bring all the current medications: Take pill bottles, patches,creams, and any other medications currently beingtaken or used, as well as OTC medicines, vitamins, andherbal therapies.
•Bring x-rays, computed tomography scans, magnetic resonanceimaging, and other scans: Take the actual scans,not just the radiologist's report. This allows the physiciansto make their own interpretation of the findings.
•Make a list of questions: For example, what is the cause ofthe pain? What strategies might help relieve the pain?
•Bring a friend or family member to the physician's office: Asecond set of ears is very important when complex medicalinformation may be discussed. Also, a friend or family membercan help remember the physician's recommendations.
•Mentally prepare for the visit: Seeing a new physician forchronic pain is an occasion filled with hope and optimismfor a possible cure. Yet, relaying the history of the painand the attempts at finding relief can be emotionally trying.Do not be surprised if tears of frustration and sadnessstart to flow.