Are you suffering from constant and excruciating neck or back pain? Are over-the-counter pain relievers not enough to relieve your discomfort? If you answer yes to both questions, it may be time to make an appointment with a pain specialist. 

Chronic pain is a common health condition in adults, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 50 million American adults experience pain that lasts for more than three months. Most people ignore or hide their pain to avoid bias from their friends or colleagues. However, seeking proper pain treatment is crucial to improve your range of movement and quality of life. 

Just as you would make the necessary preparations for a physical checkup, there are some steps to take before seeking help from a pain doctor. Per a specialist’s advice, here is how to properly prepare for a pain consultation. 

Keep a Pain Diary

According to Dr. Brandon Claflin from Oklahoma Interventional Spine and Pain, one of the first things you should do before coming in for your first appointment is to keep a pain diary. A written record that will let you and your pain specialist know more about your condition: you should write the times when you have pain, what usually causes or triggers it, and how severe the pain is. Make your pain diary entries as detailed and informative as possible. For example, to further describe your pain level, you can rate it on a scale of 0 to 10. 

It also helps to list down any pain medicine you take, so include the dosage and the frequency of your intake. Note if the pain subsides after taking the medication and how long it takes before the effects wear off. Do not leave off anything that impacts your pain, including foods, beverages, or activities that worsen the pain. Also, make sure to mention if the pain impairs your movements or if it keeps you awake at night. All these can help your doctor find the best solutions to reduce and manage your pain

Compile Records of Your Medical History

Suppose you have been seeing other doctors for a pre-existing medical condition. Then, Dr. Claflin says that it is essential to compile records of your medical history and bring the documents with you since your pain specialist will likely need to see them. Some pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, may cause joint pain that affects the bones, muscles, and nervous system. It has links to arthritis, which is one of the most common causes of chronic pain. 

Apart from physical health conditions, some mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are also linked to the development of chronic pain. If you are seeing a therapist or taking medication because of depression or anxiety, make sure to let your pain doctor know about it. Be prepared to provide your other doctors’ names and contact information since your pain specialist may need to talk to them to create a personalized treatment plan. 

You should also share information about previous medical treatments or alternative treatments that you tried to help you cope with pain. For instance, if you had acupuncture before or tried massage therapy, note when you had these treatments, how often you had them, and if they effectively reduced pain severity. 

Take Notes and Ask Questions

On the day of your initial consultation, take notes during your visit and ask questions to make the most of your appointment. Ask questions about your treatment plan, and do not be afraid to ask your doctor to elaborate so you can understand everything. Apart from that, you will also need to know the goals for your treatment and if there are any medications, food, or activities that you should avoid. 

Once your pain specialist has created a comprehensive treatment plan for you, ask how each prescribed therapy, medication, or treatment can be beneficial to alleviate your pain. If there are some treatments you are concerned about or are not comfortable with, ask if there are any alternatives you can explore. For instance, in particular chronic pain cases, some doctors may prescribe opioids for pain relief. If you would instead not take potentially addictive substances, you can ask your pain specialist to prescribe something else and see if your body reacts positively to the medicine. 

Knowing how to prepare for your first pain consultation can help you make the most of your medical appointment. Consider these tips before seeing a pain specialist, and consult an experienced pain doctor to get positive results.


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