Talking To Your Doctor about Pain

Categories: Education.

Pain tends to be under-treated. Make sure your doctor knows you have pain. Whether you are the person in pain, or a family or friend caregiver, you can help the doctor prescribe the most effective treatment plan. Write down the answers to the following questions before you talk to the doctor so you can best describe the pain:

  • How long has the pain been an issue?

  • Is it a new pain or has it happened before?

  • Where is it located? Is it in more than one area? If so, which location is most bothersome? Does it move from one place to another?

  • How severe is the pain? Is the pain mild, moderate, severe, or unbearable?

  • Is the pain sharp and stabbing, dull and aching, burning, or does it feel like an electric shock?

  • Is there any numbness, tingling, or new weakness in the pain area?

  • How does the pain interfere with doing normal activities? What activities or conditions make the pain worse?

  • How has the pain affected your emotional well-being? Are you feeling depressed, anxious or isolated?

  • What has been tried to relieve the pain?

  • What medicines are being taken? Are the medicines taken at set times or just when you need them?

  • Are you/is the person allergic or sensitive to any pain medicine?

The more you understand about the pain treatment prescribed, the better you will be able to advocate for yourself or your loved one, so do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Below is a list of suggested questions to ask your doctor:

  • What are all the options available for treating the pain?

  • What are the benefits of each treatment?

  • What are the risks of each treatment?

  • What are the possible side effects?

  • What are the costs of each treatment?

  • How can treatment help me (or my loved one) be more comfortable and active?

  • How long will it take for the treatment to work?

  • What should I do if the treatment does not work?

  • Will insurance pay for treatment?

  • What side effects, if any, are the pain medications causing?

  • Besides taking medicine, what else can be done to manage the pain? Is there a pain specialist or team available to me?

  • What support is there for the emotional pain that has developed from being in physical pain?