dahlia in my garden: Rio Fuego in Coleus leaves

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Preparing to Meet With a New Pain Doctor

(I just realized that this coming Tuesday-Newsday will be my 100th blog post! Wow! I can't believe I will also celebrate my blog's one year anniversary at the end of this month. I'm planning that weekend to share my favorite posts from my first year. Thank you all for supporting my blog!)

So it’s official... I am now enrolled in a different health insurance coverage. I haven’t yet gotten possession of all my health records from my old HMO so I’ve put off choosing a new doctor(s) until I have what I need.

However, it’s important that I don’t just sit on my hands and wait. There are a lot of things I can do to help make a smooth transition to a new doc with just a little work. This week I’ll focus on one aspect: preparing to discuss my pain. 

I’ve been looking around the web seeing what I can find to aid me in accurately conveying the level of pain in my life. I’ve found a lot of great options which you may also find useful.


Make sure you find a healthcare provider with whom you feel comfortable. He/she should:

• Know about chronic pain and how to treat it.

• Believe your report of pain.

• Listen carefully to your concerns.

• Ask you questions and perform diagnostic tests to help identify the problem.

• Encourage you to ask questions.

• Be comfortable when you disagree.

• Be willing to speak to your family or friends if you are not feeling well.

• Work with you to develop a pain management plan that helps reduce your pain and sets realistic goals.

• Provide detailed information about risks and benefits of each pain treatment option that is recommended.

• Tell you when he or she does not know something about your pain problem or treatment


If you go into the appointment with your pain doctor with all your records and a plan, you will have the best chance of feeling "heard" and be set up for successful treatment. Here's a link to help you with that: ~Getting the Best Out of Medical Consultations


If you aren’t already, you should be tracking your pain on a daily basis. If you have pain all the time like I do, I just write down the episodes that are above my normal daily pain level to show how it differs during the day. Here are two pain log forms you can print out and use, or you can search online for log you prefer, or even draw up your own that is specific to your issues.
Log 1     Log 2     

When you are tracking your pain, it can also be beneficial to use the 
L-O-C-A-T-E-S  Scale from the APF:

L:  Location of the pain and whether it travels to other body parts.

O:  Other associated symptoms such as nausea, numbness, or weakness.

C:  Character of the pain, whether it's throbbing, sharp, dull, or burning.

A:  Aggravating and alleviating factors. What makes the pain better or worse?

T:  Timing of the pain, how long it lasts, is it constant or intermittent?

E:  Environment where the pain occurs, for example, while working or at home.

S:  Severity of the pain. Use a 0-to-10 pain scale from no pain to worst ever.

I’m not a techie person, but I can’t deny that being able to track your pain instantly wherever you are on your phone is a great thing. With a quick search, I found a few pain apps online; I cannot recommend any of these personally so definitely do a little research and check their reviews. My husband put the first one on my Android phone and I’m hoping I can learn to use and get comfortable with it. If you are using a pain app you think is great, please write about it in the comments section below. 
It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen a new pain doctor (11 years!) I can’t recall exactly what questions I might be asked and what descriptions and history are the most important for me to include. To that end, I found two forms to help me prepare, so I can be concise and accurate. You can check them out here: 

All these links and information are certainly helping me to prepare for meeting the new pain doctor I’ll be choosing soon. I hope you’ve also found valuable resources, and don't forget your rights...

As a Person With Pain, You Have a Right To:

• Have your report of pain taken seriously and be treated with dignity and respect by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, physician assistants and other healthcare professionals.

• Have your pain thoroughly assessed and promptly treated.

• Participate actively in decisions about how to manage your pain.

• Be informed and know your options; talk with your healthcare provider about your pain – possible cause(s), treatment options and the benefits, risks and cost of each choice.

• Have your pain reassessed regularly and your treatment adjusted if your pain has not been eased.

• Be referred to a pain specialist if your pain persists.

• Get clear and prompt answers to your questions, take time to make decisions, and refuse a particular type of treatment if you choose.

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