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