7 smart tips for getting the right help for your pain

October 9, 2015

You family doctor may be wonderful, but the average primary care physician, who has to know about everything from sprained muscles to sore throats, may not be up on the latest ways to treat pain. If you're in significant pain (that is, you have more bad days than good ones), you need a specialist. Here are seven tips to get the help you need.

7 smart tips for getting the right help for your pain

1. Educate yourself

To get the right help, you need to know what's lacking in the care you've already gotten.

  • Think through what you need and educate yourself about how to find it.

2. Don't be afraid to change doctors

Addressing your pain is rather like getting your roof fixed: If the first contractor can't mend it, try another. What you don't do is live with a leaky roof. Know when to go elsewhere.

3. Find Dr. Right

You know you want to see a specialist to ease your pain, but your homework's just beginning.

  • Pain specialist, for instance, is an umbrella term for anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, physical medicine specialists and others.
  • Some provide only one thing, like medication, while others offer a multidisciplinary approach.

4. Be a good partner

Once you find a specialist, one key to care is communication.

  • Life is all about personal relationships, and it's no different with your doctor.

5. Learn how to describe your pain

Part of getting the best care is being able to describe your pain, to articulate how pain affects your life.

6. Cast a wider net

Pain often requires a combination approach.

  • You may be getting excellent care from a doctor who is prescribing medications, for example, but other therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and physical therapy, could each have a place in your treatment as well.
  • In fact, you may need several specialists: a pain-management physician along with a physical therapist, acupuncturist or even a dietician who can help you reach a healthy weight or eat to keep your energy high, two strategies that can ease your pain.

7. Rate your doctor

  • You have the right to a doctor or therapist who respects your situation and values your time. Ask yourself if your doctor is the right one for you.

Keep this guide in mind and find a doctor that will address your problems and offer solutions that work.

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