Persistent pain can make life hard. When you look up a doctor for your pain, you hope that they understand what you’re going through, give it the seriousness that it deserves, and work hard to diagnose it correctly. Unfortunately, consultations often do not go this way. The fact that most patients see doctors as unapproachable and difficult to contradict adds to the problem.
It’s important to understand that pain management isn’t like most other illnesses — you suffer grievously every minute, and you simply cannot afford to waste time with a doctor who isn’t giving you the best treatment possible. Patients struggling with pain need to step up and ask the right questions. These can help immensely in ensuring quality treatment.
Here are four of the most important questions that you need to ask on your first visit to a doctor for your pain. These questions should help focus both the treatment that you receive and the relationship that you have with your doctor.
Will you be giving me standardized pain assessment tests ?
A committed doctor will always offer a standardized pain assessment test such as the WILDA to gain an accurate idea of the level of pain experienced. It is only with such a test that the doctor may judge if a treatment course offered actually works. Subsequent pain level tests can help prove if the pain responds well enough.
The administration of a standardized pain assessment test alone isn’t it enough to help the doctor know about your pain. The test should go with questions about factors that aggravate or alleviate it.
Is this diagnosis unable to accommodate anything in my medical history?
Pain can be notoriously difficult to diagnose correctly. You need to be on the alert to make sure that the doctor has put in all the work necessary into making his diagnosis. A few tests are to be expected.
Once your doctor comes up with a diagnosis, you need to probe further to see that he really has put some thought into it, and that he hasn’t forgotten an important sign or symptom. Asking about which symptoms his diagnosis is unable to accommodate is an excellent way to get the conversation started, and it shows the doctor that you are an involved patient.
You should also ask what else your condition could possibly be, given the symptoms that you have, and if it is possible that you have multiple conditions.
How long before we know that this diagnosis is indeed correct?
All good doctors leave some room for the possibility that they’ve made an incorrect diagnosis. You need to know if your doctor is open to such a thought. You need to ask exactly how long you need to wait before you’re completely sure that the diagnosis arrived at is the right one.
Are there any cutting-edge treatments that could be applicable to my condition ?
Pain management is actively researched, and scientists come up with effective new treatments on regular basis. These treatments, though, may not be available at every clinic. It’s important to know that your doctor keeps on top of these developments, and offers you every possible shot at a return to health.