Person talking to doctor

How To Talk About Pain with Your Doctor

Living with chronic pain is an ongoing, daily stressor in itself. But it can also cause psychological and emotional stress that adds insult to injury — literally. Finding solutions with your doctor and pain specialists needn’t add to this discomfort.

At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we are committed to addressing your pain with open curiosity, kindness, and practical advice. Here are some tips for coordinating with your team to discover pain solutions together.

Ask Questions

You turn to your medical team because they have a lot of knowledge. But they don’t always know what you want to know. “Asking questions is one of the best ways to ensure you and your doctor are on the same page,” Dr. Ted Epperly, a clinical professor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine advised Time magazine. “And if your doctor doesn’t seem interested in answering, or you get a negative response, you need to find a new doctor.”

To be sure you are both communicating clearly, schedule an appointment specifically designed to address your pain questions, and provide thorough answers. For guidance, here are a few questions the U.S. News & World Report determined doctors wish their patients would ask:

  • How does my family history impact treatment?
  • What preventative care measures can I take?
  • What are other trusted sources of information I can utilize?
  • Do you have specific advice around prescriptions?
  • How does my sleep impact pain treatment?
  • Why are we conducting this test? What will the results reveal?
  • What do you do for your own health and well-being?

Take Note of Your Own Body

Outside resources may direct you toward successful pain management solutions, but starting with self-awareness might be the best way to empower you, and therefore your doctor.

“Think about the duration and quality of the pain,” advises REWIRE. “How you’d describe it if someone asked when it started. If anything has relieved it, and if anything has made it worse. Prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ of sorts. The more you can describe it, the better you’re going to be able to work with your physician.”

Climate, food consumption, over-the-counter pain medicines, and levels of physical activity may also impact your pain. Self-tracking these details even over a couple of weeks can paint a clearer picture of your condition, and help your pain management team craft a plan to alleviate it. Paying careful attention to how your pain impacts your work and personal life can also provide useful information.

Coordinate with Caregivers

Involving a trusted loved one — to take notes, ask questions, or provide private, thoughtful and honest feedback or support — may help you feel even more courage to speak up for yourself.

But coordinating conversations among all your caregivers may help even further. Can you (or your personal health advocate) bring your health team together in a conference call, or email chain? “When you’re seeing a whole bunch of different specialists,” Isabel Mavrides, a disability justice activist and organizer explains, “they don’t always talk, which can make the diagnostic process take much longer.” Finding a format that works best for you and your specialists (while keeping in mind HIPAA regulations to protect your privacy) can help ensure that everyone is clearly connected.

At Alliance Spine & Pain Centers, we’re here to advocate for and with you. Schedule an appointment online to discuss your pain management, and how we can work more specifically with you to find solutions. You can also call 770-929-9033 to set up a conversation.