Patients searching for appropriate treatment for chronic pain can tell you that it is a long, hard struggle. According to this article by Health, most doctors are not trained to deal with chronic pain treatment . Not only are patients stressed and frustrated with this, but physicians are also. Physicians only have so much time to spend with each patient and the doctor is often rushed.
“Doctors don’t want patients to suffer; they want people to get better,” said Dr. Bill McCarberg, founder of the Chronic Pain Management Program at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California. “But they feel stress; they feel time constraints; they have to deal with pre-authorizations; it’s not the kind of practice they wanted. They’re stressed, and that leads to moving patients along.”
Doctors are basically saying that the “system” isn’t set up to handle patients who suffer from chronic pain. Something needs to change then because the number of people suffering from chronic pain continues to grow. So what is a patient to do?
- Try to keep emotion out of it
When explaining your chronic pain, if you say that it is “depressing” and “upsetting” to be in a lot of pain, doctors will see it in terms of emotion and treat it as an emotional problem, referring you to psychiatric care or antidepressants. While antidepressants are often used to treat pain, you need to stand your ground and make sure any treatment is addressing your specific problems.
- Be gentle about your pain, but be firm
It’s important to be clear about your pain and explain the way it impacts your life when you’re talking to your doctor. Don’t be intimidated. Stand your ground, calmly. Listen to what the doctor has to say, but if you are not satisfied press harder.
But remember that the most important thing is to create a relationship with your doctor in which you’re a team, both looking for the best way to alleviate your pain.
Bill Hartwell says
And don’t be afraid to look for another doctor, if yours isn’t helping. For instance, pain management in the Dartmouth medical system primarily consists of spinal blocks, which are useless for our kind of pain. The pain management people are very up-front about that. Unfortunately, the only answer they have for people who aren’t helped by spinal blocks is referral to psychiatric “pain management” therapy, which, in my experience, is nothing more than CBT.