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Talking to Your Doctor About Chronic Pain

Discuss Your Needs and Wants

Tell your healthcare provider what you need. Do you need to be able to lift your children or grandchildren? Do you need your pain medication to last at least through your work day? Be clear about your needs. Also discuss your wants, if time allows. Do you want to be able to go on long walks? Do you want to be able to continue your favorite leisure activities?
 
This is also a good time to talk about what you like or do not like about your current pain medications. Are the side effects bothersome? Are they not working quite as well as you would like? Are you concerned about the possibility of becoming addicted to them? Let your doctor know.
 
Remember that the pain medications of today are not necessarily the pain medications of the past. While some of the old "tried and true" options (like morphine) will always be a valuable part of the arsenal against pain, newer options can provide real pain relief, sometimes with fewer side effects or less abuse potential.
 

Give Your Doctor a Second Chance

Except in extreme cases, don't judge your doctor based on one visit. Perhaps they just came from a stressful surgery. Perhaps their patient schedule is more than full today. Perhaps unpleasant parts of your doctor visit (such as a long wait time) are beyond their control.
 
However, if it becomes clear that you and your doctor are simply not a good fit, don't hesitate to switch providers. Be careful of too many switches, though, as this may be seen as "doctor shopping." This is especially important for people with chronic pain, who may be taking narcotic medications.
 
Take responsibility for your part of the doctor-patient relationship, be a good patient, and give your provider a chance to be a good doctor. 
 
Alternative Therapies for Pain Management
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