How To Work With Your Doctor To Choose The Right Pain Treatment
We all experience pain in our own individual way.
Work with your doctor to find the pain medications or treatments that will work best for you.
To receive the best treatment possible, you need to be able to tell the doctor what he or she needs to know, and ask the questions that will lead to the best treatment for you.
What Your Doctor Needs To Know
- The exact locations where you feel pain in your body. Is it localized in one place? Does the pain seem to move around to different parts of your body?
- What the pain feels like. Is it sharp? Dull? Throbbing? Steady? Burning? Aching? Shooting? Pins and needles? (For information about how to describe pain, click here.)
- If the pain is constant. If not, how many times of day or week does it occur?
- The severity of the pain. A pain scale of 0 to 5, or 0 to 10 is often used to describe the severity of pain. The pain level increases as the numbers become larger. For example, when using a scale of 0 to 5, 0 indicates no pain, 5 indicates a pain level that is as bad as it can be. Reporting your pain as a number will help your doctor determine the severity. The rating scale is also useful in determining how well a treatment is working.
- Any physical symptoms that may accompany the pain, including nausea, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, difficulty sleeping.
- When the pain started.
- Any pain patterns, such as whether the pain is better or worse after a meal, when lying down, or at certain times of the day or night. How long does the pain last?
- What helps to relieve the pain.
- Whether any medicine or other treatment takes the pain away completely.
- Does the pain return before it is time for the next dose of medicine?
- What seems to make the pain worse.
- Treatments or methods you have used to try and control the pain, including what was effective and what didn't help.
- What you have used in the past to control other kinds of pain.
- The effect the pain has on your daily life. Does it stop you from working? Doing household chores? Seeing your friends and family? Going out and having fun?
- Any history of substance abuse problems, including drugs and alcohol.
- About all medications that you are taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications including vitamins, herbs or other complimentary treatments.
- Any allergies you may have to medications.
- Any adverse reactions or side effects you may have experienced with pain medications.
- Your goals for pain relief. Do you want no pain at all (which can sometimes be hard to achieve), or is your goal to feel well enough to do specific activities?
- About any fears or concerns you may have about a medicine or recommended treatment. (You are more likely to follow the treatment plan if these issues are properly addressed).
Questions For Your Doctor
- How much experience have you had with pain management? How many patients? What have been the results?
- What do you believe is the cause of my pain?
- What are my pain treatment options? What are the pros and cons of each option?
- Why do you recommend one medicine or treatment over another?
- What side effects might I experience, and what can be done to prevent or minimize them?
- How will the drug or treatment interact with other drugs or treatments I use or am likely to use?
- How much of the recommended drug should I take, and how often?
- If my pain is not relieved, can I take more? If so, how much should the dose be increased? What if I become tolerant to the drugs and only very large doses are necessary to control pain? Would you still prescribe them for me?
- What should I do if pain breaks through and suddenly flares up? (Pain can come on quickly and last a short time such as 30 minutes. It can occur several times a day.)
- When can I increase dosage on my own and when should I call you before increasing the dosage?
- What should I do if I forget to take my medication, or if I take it late?
- How might the recommended treatment affect my daily life, including work and my responsibilities at home?
- Are there activities that I should avoid when taking this drug? Will the medications make me sleepy, or effect my concentration or coordination? It may not be safe to drive a car, operate equipment or even walk up or down stairs.
- What treatment combinations can we try that may reduce my need to take as much pain medication, while still adequately controlling my pain?
- Are there lifestyle changes that I should make that will improve my pain management? For example, should I lose weight, avoid stress, avoid alcohol, do special exercises?
- Do you think I would benefit from a referral to a pain specialist?
- Who should I call if I have questions or concerns about my medication (both during and after office hours)?