How Should I Talk to Healthcare Professionals about My Pain?
Should I try to ignore my pain?
No! Today we know that pain should be treated instead of ignored. Good pain management can allow your body to heal and allow you to return to your normal activities, resulting in better quality of life.
Who can I turn to?
Many people may be involved in helping you manage persistent pain. Some nurses specialize in pain management, as do physicians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists. Physiotherapy, psychological counselling, pain courses, meditation, and support groups may all play a role in helping to manage your pain. You also have the option of being referred by your family doctor to a pain specialist if your pain persists.
Treating pain requires a partnership between you and your healthcare professionals. Here are some tips for this partnership:
- Keep a pain diary, recording the amount of pain, time when pain was experienced, what you did to help the pain, and its effect. It is helpful to include the medications that you have taken and your activities. Also write anything you think might be causing your pain to get worse or better. It can be useful in helping you to talk to your doctor about your pain. (A copy of the pain diary can be downloaded from www.canadianpaincoalition.ca.)
- Describe your pain using words like throbbing, stabbing, burning, aching, tingling, dull, pressing, etc.
- Rate your pain on a scale of 0-10, with 0 as no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine.
- List what you have tried already, what helps, what makes it worse.
- Remember that you are the expert on your own body. You have the right to be listened to about your pain.
- Bring a family member or friend along to medical visits to make sure you don’t miss important information.
- Continue to use medications as prescribed and discuss anyconcerns or side effects with your healthcare team.
- Remember that you have the right to refuse a treatment option for your pain. You also have the right to have your pain reassessed regularly and your treatment adjusted if your pain has not been eased.