What to bring to a Doctor’s Appointment?

Coming to your appointment prepared will help the doctor to assess your condition more efficiently and effectively. Some things you can do to prepare yourself for your appointment include:

  • Keep a pain journal. Note when your symptoms seem to be worse, what activities exacerbate your pain, and what alleviates your pain.
  • Bring a record of what medications you have tried to alleviate your pain. Make sure to include over the counter medications as well as medications you have been prescribed by other doctors.
  • Bring any previous x-rays, CT scans, and MRI films with you to the doctor. The doctor may request previous records from other doctors you have seen.
  • Bring a list of your current medications. It is important for the doctor to know all of your medications, even those which are not for your pain condition. Also include any over the counter medications, dietary supplements, vitamins, or minerals.
  • Think about how your pain affects your life; does it prevent you from participating in your regular activities? Is there anything you would like to be able to do that your pain currently prevents you from doing?
  • Bring a list of questions you may have for the doctor.
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Will I get a prescription during my first visit?

Our pain management doctors (or nurse practitioners) will evaluate you, and if he/she thinks a prescription is appropriate as part of your treatment, they will prescribe medication. We focus on interventional pain management, but also do medication management. We don’t guarantee that you will leave the office with a prescription.

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I have a difficult time swallowing large pills, and in the past, I’ve crushed the pills up and mixed them into food to make them easier to take. Are there any medications that I shouldn’t do this with?

You should be very cautious about crushing pills. Many pills have a special timed-release coating that allows small doses of the medication to be absorbed over time as the coatings dissolve. Crushing a pill destroys its coating, and releases a much larger dose all at once, which can lead to dangerous side effects or even death.

Talk to your pharmacist about whether your medications are available in a different form. Your doctor might be able to change the prescription to a liquid, or to several smaller pills that are easier to take. If you have to use a large pill, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is safe to crush it or dissolve it in food. To be safe, it’s important to ask about every medication, and even for refills if the pill changes from one manufacturer to another.

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I’ve been prescribed narcotics because of chronic pain, and the bottle says I should avoid operating heavy machinery and driving when I take them.

Narcotic pain medications (also known as opioids) tend to make people dizzy and drowsy. That is why people taking them are warned not to do things that could be dangerous if you were not 100% alert. Many people who use narcotic medications for chronic pain report that these side effects lessen or go away after a few days or weeks on the medication. However, even if you feel alert, driving might not be safe or legal in your area. Consult your health care team about whether you should restrict your activities while taking narcotics.

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Why did my doctor give me an antidepressant for my pain? I’m in pain, not depressed! Can’t he see that the only problem is my pain? I need help now!

It is a little confusing, but a number of antidepressants have actually been found to help ease chronic pain. The effect these medicines have on pain is separate from their effect on mood. There are many things about chronic pain that we do not understand. However, it seems that imbalances in chemicals involved in pain perception and transmission may play a role. In low doses antidepressants seem to adjust these chemicals. As a result, they are a common and useful way to treat chronic pain. As with all medicines, unwanted side effects can occur. For this reason you should always talk with your doctor about how well the medicine is working in your body and any side effects you may have.

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I’ve been told that there is a difference between physical dependence and addiction to pain medications, but I don’t understand. Can you explain the difference to me?

It’s very common for people to be confused about the difference between physical dependence and addiction. The main difference is that addiction includes a psychological (or mental) craving for the medication that can lead to self-destructive behavior. Physical dependence only means that your body needs the medication and you have symptoms when you do not take it. People become physically dependent on many kinds of medicines, including insulin, antidepressants, and others. It is a normal part of using some medications.

When you use a pain medication, after a while your body becomes used to having that chemical on a regular basis. Your body needs that medication to function normally. If you stop taking it or lower the dose, your body reacts badly, with physical withdrawal symptoms like headaches, nausea, shakes, and other more serious problems. This is physical dependence, and it is not at all the same as addiction.

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Is my pain all in my head?

This question is often asked by people who have been told that they will have to learn to live with their pain. At times, it is difficult to pin down a specific physical cause for the pain. But that does not lessen the suffering. When we experience any pain, it is in both our bodies and minds. We cannot separate the physical and psychological affects any situation has on us.

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Why is my pain worse some days than others?

Sometimes you will notice pain at the end of the day or after a certain activity. If you notice that you get pain at these times. Prevent the pain by taking medication prior to the activity or time of day.

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Is it normal to have pain after an injection? What can I do for the pain?

Its normal to have pain after an injection. Some patients can feel worse; some can feel better right way. If you have pain, apply icepacks for 10-20 mins every 4-6 hours.

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Will I become addicted if I start taking pain medications?

When you are on a pain medication for a while, your body can become used to the medication. If you stop taking the medication or lower the dose your body can react with withdrawal symptoms like headaches, nausea, shakes and other problems.

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What can I expect when I see my pain management doctor?

After your doctors reviews your history and physical exam, then the doctor may order more tests such a X-rays, MRIs etc and or blood tests. After reviewing the tests your doctor will tailor you a treatment plan that could include of the following; medications, minimally invasive procedures or physical therapy.

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When would you see a Pain Management Doctor?

People can develop pain from a variety of reasons. Some examples could be from a recent surgery, injury or an Illness. Usually you can manage pain yourself, but in severe cases your primary care doctor will refer you to a Pain Management Doctor.

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What are some Treatment Components of Pain Management?

  • minimally-invasive injection-based therapy
  • physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • psychological counseling
  • social support
  • medication
  • other complementary approaches
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What is Pain Management?

Pain management is a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating and controlling pain. It uses a multi-pronged and individualized treatment plan to coordinate safe and effective options that can address the physical, emotional, social, and psychological aspects of pain. In a balanced approach to pain management, people with pain learn to manage the pain in safe, effective, responsible and healthy ways to improve or maintain their overall well-being.

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