21 Questions About Pain That You Should Ask Your Doctor

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The more you can learn from your doctor, the better you’ll understand your condition—and the more you know about your condition, the better you’ll be able to manage your pain.

Here are 21 possible questions about pain that you should ask the next time you see your physician:

1. What is the real medical name for my condition? (This will help you do research online or at your library.)

2. Are there any good websites or books on my condition that I could read to learn more?

3. How many people have my condition?

4. Are there any specialty societies for doctors who treat my condition?

5. Is my condition chronic (long-term) or is there a chance that it will go away?

6. Is my condition progressive? That is, will it get worse over time? If it is progressive, what can I do to slow down its progression?

7. What are the best things I can do to take care of my health knowing my condition?

8. Are there any drugs or activities I must avoid with my condition?

9. If you are prescribed any drugs, ask if these drugs interact with other drugs you are taking. It is always a good idea to take to your doctor an updated list of all the drugs you take, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, even vitamins and supplements.

10. How can I manage the pain my condition causes?

11. Will exercise help or hurt me? (And, if I should be exercising, how should I start?)

12. Are there any local support groups for pain patients or people with my condition?

13. What can I do if the pain gets really bad?

14. If your doctor gives you any remedies to manage your pain, ask how you should take them.

  • Do I take them every day or regularly, even if I feel pretty good?
  • What do I do if the pain gets worse or I have a very bad day? Do I take extra medication or do other therapy?
  • Should I try to live with as much pain as I can and only take the bare minimum of medication or should I try to take sufficient medication to relieve my pain completely?
  • Should I stop taking the medication if I feel fine? If I decide to go off my medications, can I just stop or do I need to gradually taper off?

15. Are there any procedures that might help me, such as surgery or a device? Where can I find out more about this if I am interested?

16. What are the latest treatments being studied for my condition?

17. Are there any clinical trials for new medications or therapies for my condition that I might be a candidate for?

18. What is the latest thinking about my condition, its causes and its treatment? (Bear in mind, some conditions, such as arthritis, are well known and there isn’t much breakthrough news. But fibromyalgia is a subject of ongoing research.)

19. What are the most important things for me to remember to help me manage my pain?

20. What should I tell my spouse or family about my condition so that they can help me?

21. What is my prognosis (future development of the condition)? What should I know about how my condition normally progresses?

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Meet Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi is an internationally recognized expert in pain medicine who has spent much of his career studying what pain is, why it occurs, and how best to treat it. That experience has led him to believe strongly that there are often ways to relieve or manage pain which are overlooked or discounted, and that the most effective treatment approaches are always multi-modal.

More About Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi