Purpose Statement

This blog is intended to educate women on issues that affect women. Although we are all healthcare professionals, we are not here to give medical advice. Rather we hope this will encourage women knowing that help is available and give them the courage to seek help.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pain: You and Your Doctor

Written By: Rhonda Borman, LCSW

Clients often come complaining that their doctor’s don’t listen to them.  They report that their doctors seem disinterested, appear preoccupied and their visits are often interrupted by their physicians leaving them in the treatment room to take telephone calls or talk to their nurses.  Clients make comments like, “My doctor just wants to throw another pill at me, expecting me to get better.  I didn’t feel heard at all!”

While there is truth to what these clients say, doctors come to work each day hopeful that their skills will make a positive, healing difference in their patients’ lives. They trust their patients to communicate honestly with them, and with that information and examinations and tests, physicians are optimistic that they can alleviate distress.

As many of you with chronic pain know, that is not always the case.  Some of us have bodies that do not respond to typical or alternative interventions.  With feelings of hopeless and despair, it is easy to target medical professionals who do want to help.

Neuro-scientists point out that people listen and learn in one of three ways.  Some are auditory learners, others are visual learners, and others, still, are kinesthetic learners, who learn by doing activities related to a subject. As patients, we expect our doctors to be auditory learners.  They should be able to hear what we are saying and understand and empathize with us. 

If you are one of the patients who feels your doctor is not listening to you.  You may have a physician who can understand what you have to say if you present it differently.  Consider the following to see if this makes a difference:

*  Use a bullet list and put your symptoms and reactions to the symptoms in writing,

*  Create a diagram of your body and mark the areas that are painful.  You may consider using a color code:

      Red for severe

      Yellow for moderate

      Green for tinges of pain

Next, using descriptions provided by the McGill Comparative Pain Scale, describe what you feel by using words such as:

Flickering, Pulsing, Quivering, Throbbing, Beating, Pounding
Jumping, Flashing, Shooting
Pricking, Boring, Drilling, Stabbing
Sharp, Cutting, Lacerating
Pinching, Pressing, Gnawing, Cramping, Crushing
Tugging, Pulling, Wrenching
Hot, Burning, Scalding, Searing
Tingling, Itchy, Smarting, Stinging
Dull, Sore, Hurting, Aching, Heavy
Tender, Taut (tight), Rasping, Splitting
Tiring, Exhausting
Sickening, Suffocating
Fearful, Frightful, Terrifying
Punishing, Grueling, Cruel, Vicious, Killing
Wretched, Blinding
Annoying, Troublesome, Miserable, Intense, Unbearable
Spreading, Radiating, Penetrating, Piercing
Tight, Numb, Squeezing, Drawing, Tearing
Cool, Cold, Freezing
Nagging, Nauseating, Agonizing, Dreadful, Torturing

Another action you may take is when registering for your appointment.  Ask the receptionist or nurse, when you are put into the exam room, if you can have a copy of the “Wong Baker Faces Pain Scale.”  This simple measurement allows you to circle the face that most indicates the degree of discomfort you are experiencing.  Most medical professionals are familiar with it and many have it in their offices.

Lastly, remembering that some doctors are kinesthetic, let you doctor know that as you are being examined that you will be describing what you are feeling.  After the exam, ask the doctor to repeat what has been said, so you will feel heard.