Does this happen to you? Every time you go to your pain management healthcare provider
you’re asked, “On a scale of 1-10, what is your pain today?”
You politely give them an answer somewhere between 1-10. If the number is higher than it was
the last time, you may get asked an additional question like, “Why is your number higher than
If the number is lower than last time, you may hear, “Oh good! You’re doing better today!”
Neither of the above statements are 100% true. When you’re “How is your pain today?” you’re
probably thinking about that specific moment in time. In other words, at that specific time, how
are you feeling? If you’re like me, this isn’t reflective of how you’re feeling for the day. So how
do you tell your healthcare provider how you really feel? Simple! by communication!
Here are some of my tips I use with my healthcare provider and what I tell my patients as a
- Be specific. Tell your healthcare provider how you feel in very specific terms. Don’t just
say “My back aches.” Instead, say, “When I stand in one place for longer than 2 minutes,
my lower back really starts to throb.” By giving your healthcare provider specific details
about your pain, your provider has more information that can help him or her give you
the best recommendation.
As a Nurse Practitioner, I want to know what is going on with my patients. If you tell me
that your low back hurts, I want to know when it hurts, what makes it better, what makes
it worse, what have you tried to make it better, and how long this has been going on. By
having all this information, I can provide the best care for you!
- Don’t be shy. When I started to have problems with incontinence, I told my provider. I
wanted to know if this was a normal side effect of Adhesive Arachnoiditis or if this was
something else. I also wanted suggestions from my provider on how to manage this side
As a Nurse Practitioner, I promise I will never judge you or embarrass you when you tell
me about your symptoms. I really do want to help you feel better – I can only do this if
you tell me everything that you’re feeling. Also, by providing me the entire list of
symptoms, I can do my best to make things better.
- Don’t feel like you’re “bothering” your healthcare provider. If you call your provider’s
office to report a new sign or symptom – of if you’re calling with a question – you’re not
bothering your provider. Even if you saw your provider earlier that day but can’t
remember something that they told you – please call! Your provider is there for you and
to help you.
As a Nurse Practitioner – you’re never bothering me. If I have a patient who is confused
about the treatment I recommended, chances are you’re not going to even try to take it –
and that doesn’t help anyone! And I need to know when you’re having new symptoms –
these may be symptoms that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
By using these 3 simple hints to talk to your healthcare provider, you will form a better
relationship with your healthcare provider that will lead to better pain control for you!
Until next time,
Dr. JB Kirby
4 thoughts on “HOW TO TALK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER?”
This is a great article! It can be intimidating to fully explain what is going on or sometimes I just have brain fog or fatigue. I love how you understand that the pain level we are at is always changing, this is something that is hard for some to grasp. Thank you for letting us know, from your point of view, just how much you really want to know and help your patients.
Thank you for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Dr. JB Kirby
No healthcare provider has or understands this like you. I have never been seen or treated by any practitioner with any level of empathy or understanding and I have seen many. As a fellow well educated woman I get treated poorly , my complaints dismissed, or labeled. I would like to also thank you for the book it was as if I could have written this myself. At a low point currently and it was a great reminder that I shouldn’t let this control my life. Be well
Thank you for your comment; it literally brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry that you get treated poorly. As a female, I’ve been dismissed by pain docs as “being a whiny female.” When one doctor did that to me, I went out to my car, started crying, and then I got mad. I went back into that doctor’s office and started talking very loudly (ok, I was yelling) about what an idiot that doc was and how non-compassionate he was and I told everyone in the waiting room that they should leave! I really thought they were going to call the police on me! They probably thought I was crazy but I didn’t care and it made me feel good. I even filed a complaint against him with the Board of Medicine! I had never been treated so bad in my life!
I hope you get the understanding and compassion you deserve!