Talk to Your Doctor About Pain
Published July 23, 2012
Osteoarthritis is a condition that damages or destroys the cartilage that pads the joints and eases the movement of their component bones. This can be a very painful condition and it commonly strikes the knee joints.
There are treatments that can alleviate the discomfort caused by osteoarthritis, and knowing how to talk to your doctor about what you are experiencing can go a long way towards finding the proper treatment.
The preparations for your talk with the doctor about your pain should ideally begin well before reaching his or her office.
Making a list of things you want to talk about during the visit can help keep you on track or from forgetting important points.
The topics this list should cover include whether something else could be causing your pain, what kind of tests you may have to undergo, and what treatments could be used to ease your pain. Other topics include whether there are alternatives to the mainstream tests and treatments and where you can go for more information.
Consider setting aside time for at least a few days prior to your visit to keep notes about your pain.
Things you should record include:
- What time of day your knee hurts
- Under what circumstances the pain starts
- If you can, describe what the pain feels like during each episode
- Describe where on or around your knee it seems to hurt each time
- Keep track of how long the discomfort lasts
- What, if anything, do you do to treat it yourself, and how effective are those treatments
- Try to determine how severe the pain is
Something to keep in mind on the severity of pain: physicians and other medical professionals often use a 10-point scale when they question a patient, with the pain being worse the higher on the scale you go.
Other things you might want to prepare ahead of time are copies of your medical records for your physician if he or she does not already have them, a list of medications you are taking, the names and contact information for any other medical professionals you are seeing, and something to write with and something to write on.
Something else you may want to consider is arranging to bring a trusted friend or relative with you to the visit. Beyond the emotional value of having a loved one with you, this person can also remind you of points to raise or ask questions you may have forgotten.
Your time with your physician may be limited, and preparing these things ahead of time can help you get the most out of your visit.
When the time comes for the actual visit, it is going to be all about questions: the doctor's and yours.
Answer the doctor's questions as accurately as possible, even if you feel uncomfortable with the subject. Anything you tell the physician can help with your treatment.
With your questions, most importantly, ask every question you need to, and don't fall prey to the idea that you are wasting your doctor's time.
Once the question is asked, make sure you get an answer and that you understand fully what that answer means. If you don't understand, ask for a clarification until you do understand. If you need to, take notes. Again, this is not a time to be shy.
The causes of osteoarthritis are not fully understood, and there is no cure. But there are treatments that can help you deal with osteoarthritis. Some of them can be as simple as a change of lifestyle, but it can also mean drugs or even surgery.
Being prepared and talking frankly with your physician can help you determine what the best regimen will be for you.