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Tips for Effective Pain Management Appointments

The opiate epidemic in the USA has really made it difficult for those of us who live with true chronic pain conditions. Whether it be from an old injury, a new injury, or some kind of pain causing disorder. Like lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, or degenerative disks.

Physicians might be scared to prescribe pain medication because their prescribing is being watched very closely. Because of all of that it can be scary to go to a doctor to talk about pain you’ve been living with. Or to ask for an increased dose because what you got isn’t working.

How can we make the experience easier for us and the physician?

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Pain management appointments

Document your pain daily

Keep a journal or use a notebook, or whatever works for you. The best thing you can do is to be completely honest and thorough about what happened, what causes the pain. I suggest using the inner cover/first page/ or staple in a printed copy of what causes your pain. Was it an injury, is it autoimmune, etc.

But every day write down the lowest your pain was, and the highest it got. Document what areas of you body hurt, what you tried to help like ice, heat, or your medication, and if it worked.

Doctors are more receptive to what you have been dealing with when they can see it in black and white. I know this from working with them for many years. As well as my years as a chronic pain patient.

Take someone with you

Sometimes it’s good to have someone with you as a second set of ears. But also to make sure you get all your questions answered. If you have a list of questions it’s easy to forget to ask some because you get caught up with one topic. So taking someone with you can make sure you can get everything addressed. They can also be there to make notes so you can look back over them after the appointment.

Be ready to discuss your pain

Open and honestly - many doctors only allot 15 minute appointments for most patients. So you need to be prepared to say what you need to say. Be concise. But be honest.

If the treatment plan you are on isn’t working, tell them. If it’s wearing off at the 6 hour mark when you can only take it every 8. Tell them. If you aren’t honest they can’t do anything.

Be open to trying other kinds of treatments

If you go in demanding 20mg oxycontine IR and 30mg morphine ER when you have only been taking tramadol. The doctor will for sure flag your chart and likely not give you any pain medication at all. It might also help to be open to trying:

  • Physical therapy
  • Psychiatry/psychology because living with chronic pain can cause mental health issues
  • Injections and interventional treatments like epidurals, nerve blocks, steroid injections
  • Referrals to alternative therapies like biofeedback, acupuncture, chiropractic care, etc.
  • Change in medication and/or medication dose, with the approval of your doctor.

Do you have issues with lupus pain management? How do you and your doctor work together to find the best treatment for your pain?

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