People struggling with chronic pain typically just want someone to ease their suffering. But when they spend months or even years visiting doctor after doctor trying to find someone who can help, it is understandable that they might not be the easiest to deal with.
It can be frustrating repeating the same thing time and time again with every new doctor and, unsurprisingly, chronic pain patients are often unsatisfied with their treatment. So, what would pain patients like their doctors to do? Furthermore, what would increase patient satisfaction? Below are just a few examples.
Do Not Dismiss Their Pain
Chronic pain patients are often stigmatized as being hypochondriacs, lazy, weak, difficult, or just plain old complainers. They do not want their doctors to sigh or roll their eyes, and they want to be seen as genuine patients with real problems, even if the cause cannot be obviously identified.
Listen to Them
Some regular doctors are in such a rush that they do not take the time to listen to what their patients have to say. They will provide a quick examination and prescribe medication before wrapping up the consultation and moving on to the next patient. Those with chronic pain feel that their symptoms are often dismissed too quickly, and the root cause of the problem is not explored fully. The pain management physicians at Utah’s KindlyMD say that many of the patients that come to them do so because they felt that their regular doctor did not have the time to address the underlying issues causing the pain.
Think About Pain Management Rather than Pain Mending
For many people with chronic pain there is no cure, and flareups are an ongoing part of their lives. These patients want their doctor to provide them with advice about how to manage their pain rather than continuously providing them with different medications to treat it. Pain clinics and the doctors that work in them know all about the various therapies that can help patients to improve their functioning and manage their pain effectively.
Of course, there are some really compassionate doctors out there who want to do everything they can to help their patients make sense of their pain. But then there are others who will unintentionally use phrases that can make patients feel as though their pain is not real. Patients want their doctor to validate their experience and explain the reasons why pain can occur, even if it is a symptom of a mental health condition. They do not want to hear that the pain is ‘all in their head’.
Discuss Alternative Therapies
Telling a patient that they will have to learn to live with the pain is not something they will want to hear. Although some people’s pain does not respond to traditional medications, there are other treatments and therapies that can really help to relieve people’s symptoms and improve their daily lives. Doctors should be able to discuss these alternative therapies with their patients, or at the very least refer said patient to a suitable pain clinic where he or she can access a pain specialist.
It is hard to deal with chronic pain. Dealing with pain everyday of your life or just waiting for the next flareup can affect your ability to live life to the full. With that in mind, doctors need to be mindful of how they speak to chronic pain patients. These people want to hear about the options they have for managing their pain, and they want their problems to be seen as real.