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Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Pain

  • Nancy Montgomery
  • Posted March 11, 2013

More than 50 million men, women, and children in the United States live with chronic pain every day. Finding a health-care provider who is knowledgeable about pain -- its causes and treatments -- can help you get the treatment you need to go about your daily life with less discomfort. Remember that you are the expert on your pain, so you should be an active participant in developing a plan to manage it. Here are some questions that can help you find the right doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Have you treated others with the type of pain I have?
  • Do you think I need more evaluation to determine what is causing my pain and whether there is any effective treatment?
  • What are the options for treating my pain?
  • What kind of medications work best for this type of pain?
  • Are there any risks associated with treatment?
  • Do you ever recommend alternative therapies (acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, herbal remedies), either alone or in combination with prescription medications?
  • What type of specialists do you work with?
  • Can you help me set realistic goals about the level of pain relief I can expect?
  • Is it likely that the pain will ever go away completely?
  • How will we work together to figure out a treatment plan that works best for me?
  • How often should I see you?
  • What if we disagree about what treatment is best for me?
  • What should I do if I have a pain crisis or emergency?

Questions your doctor may want to ask you

  • How long have you had your pain?
  • What is your pain like?
  • What makes your pain better or worse?
  • Do you have any ideas about what could be causing it?
  • What evaluations and treatments have you tried in the past?
  • What treatments are you currently using?
  • How much pain are you in right now? (using a scale of 1-10)
  • How does your pain interfere with your daily social and physical activities?
  • Are you able to work?
  • Are you able to have sex?
  • Does it cause sleep problems?
  • Has your pain caused you to feel sad or anxious?
  • What are your personal goals regarding your pain and ability to function?
  • Are there evaluations and treatments you have considered but not yet tried?
  • Do you have a history of alcohol or substance abuse?
  • May I get your permission to contact your prior doctors for more information about evaluations and treatments you have had in the past?

Further Resources

American Chronic Pain Association http://www.theacpa.org/
PO Box 850, Rocklin, CA 95677
800-533-3231

American Pain Foundation http://www.painfoundation.org
201 North Charles Street, Suite 710, Baltimore, Maryland 21201-4111
888-615-PAIN (7246)

References

Finding Help for Your Pain. American Pain Foundation. http://www.painfoundation.org/page.asp?file=Publications/Index.htm

Keeping a Pain Diary. American Pain Foundation.

Pain Assessment. American Pain Foundation.

Pain Care Bill of Rights. American Pain Foundation

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