Chronic Pain: Introduction to building a Team of Doctors for PM and its Symptoms
Chronic pain is one of the most difficult medical diagnosis to treat because it comes with a list of its own side effects. So many times pain management doctors just want to treat the pain only without recognizing the side effects, such as depression, that exacerbate the pain. If the doctor does not look at the total overall effect chronic pain has on the individual, more than likely the patient will not receive the best medical care to treat CP and the side effects. Patients need to be honest with their PM doctors about their CP and all the symptoms they are having, regardless if you believe it is related or not to your CP diagnosis. Other symptoms you need to speak with your doctor about include sleeping problems, how you feel during flares and lower pain days, any mood problems, and (but not limited to) how you socialize with others.
There are so many ways to control your chronic pain, including medications, meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, biofeedback, psychology, psychiatry, IV therapy, and even surgical intervention. Pain Management doctors need to look at the whole patient and discuss every avenue of treatments available for and tailored to the patient.
Medications have come more advanced, more effective, and there are many different options available then there were even 30 years ago. The majority of pain management doctors are anesthesiologist who specialized in pain management. Their knowledge of pharmacology is vast, however every doctor has their particular go to medications that they like to use. Sometimes this is an advantage to the patient, because the doctor has seen many patients respond positively to the medication. However this can also be a huge disadvantage because every patient is different in many ways, including their pain diagnosis and location, medical history, family history, and how their pain effects them physically, psychologically, socially, and emotionally.
Working with a team of doctors that communicate by sharing information and treatment options can benefit the patient and their overall health. Many times medications such as those classified for neuropathic pain possibly can be more effective if combined with an antidepressant. This where a team of doctors can benefit the patient by having those doctors who’s pharmacology information is greater in a certain classification can work with the other team doctors to determine what combination will work best for the patient. Not only will this help treat the pain, it also can help to treat the side effects of chronic pain, such as depression and insomnia. Many side effects can increase pain if not treated correctly. So adding an antidepressant/antianxiety/sleep medications can help the patient relax, get relief, and a restful night’s sleep. This in return benefits the patient, their body, and overall health.
When interviewing a pain management doctor (or any doctor), remember a couple of things:
- What is their educational background? EX: Where did they go to medical school? Where did they do their fellowship? What is their specialty?
- What is their professional background? EX: What clinics/hospitals have they worked for? Do they have any complaints against them?
- How do they interact with you? EX: Do they listen well? Do they have a good rapport? Do you feel comfortable with them?
- Are they willing to work with other doctors? EX: Your GP, psychologist, psychiatrist, surgeon?
- Do they look at your overall health? EX: Your medical and family history? Other symptoms such as insomnia or depression?
- Are they too quick to write you a prescription? EX: “All my patients take (insert medication here) and it really works for them.” And hands you that script.
- Are they willing to research alternative treatments if conventional ones do not work? EX: If nerve blocks stop working, would they look into IV therapies, ketamine treatments, or even clinical trials?
- If they can’t help you in the future, will they write you a referral to someone whom can? EX: If everything that they have tried doesn’t work, will they help you search for someone that may be able to help? Or, are they willing to add another doctor (possibly in a different specialty) to the team by referring you to see them?
Remember, you control your appointments. You should be able to ask questions, voice concerns and be honest about your pain and side effects. Also, you chose to hire your doctors, if they do not have your best interest in mind, you can fire them! You want to choose a doctor that will work with you and a team of doctors to provide the best treatment plan for your chronic pain and the side effects!
Shuffle on my friends!!!