The statistics on sufferers of chronic pain are staggering – and irrelevant if you’re the one with the pain.
The sad fact, though, is that many of these sufferers don’t have to suffer, yet they do, many because they just flat out don’t know what to do or how to go about it.
To help address this, this blog looks at our specialty – pain management – with emphasis on when to turn to a pain management specialist, hindrances to avoid in making the move and what to do when you get there.
Acknowledge the Impact
The National Institutes of Health defines chronic pain as lasting more than three months with an intensity that:
- Gets in the way of daily activities
- Disturbs sleep and eating habits
- Makes it difficult to continue working
- Is related to depression or anxiety
- Impedes spending time with friends and family
If any of those factors are impacting your life, it’s time to take charge of your pain management, consulting a specialist in the field. The sooner you make the move the better, and the closer you’ll be to improved quality of life.
Be Aware of Barriers
Perhaps the greatest barrier is the surrender that comes after other doctors have failed to discover a diagnosis that would lead to effective treatment. Others include:
- Believing the pain is an inevitable consequence of aging
- Accepting it as something that must be endured
- Believing it is a result of something that “runs in the family”
- Hoping it will “just go away”
- Being too busy with work or family to take the time
- Not wanting to be perceived as a “whiner” by a physician
- Fear of addiction to opioids
None of these represent action to address your pain in a meaningful way, and the only one who can take action is you.
Consulting an Expert
Pain management doctors – physicians who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of pain – have advanced training that qualifies them as your best source of treatment if you are experiencing any type of pain due to illness or injury.
Here are a few things to remember when working with such a specialist.
- Be honest in expressing the positive and negative aspects of prior treatments.
- Describe your pain exactly as you feel it. Don’t worry about coming off as a complainer. Understanding what is generating your pain will help us put together the best treatment plan for you.
- Be prepared to make personal changes to speed your process, such as eating better or avoiding tobacco.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The field of pain management incorporates new procedures and therapies at a fast pace. Explaining the process is part of the doctor’s job.
- Express any concerns, whether it’s an aversion to drugs, costs of treatments or other worries that can stand in the way of improvement
As the field of medicine learns more about the complexities of pain, it has become more important to have physicians with specialized knowledge and skills to address it.
Now, more than ever, help is out there. We’re here if you need it.