Looking For Treatment
If you are suffering with persistent pain or chronic pain, you should first seek advice from a general practitioner. Your regular GP is the best person to see as they will know about your previous medical history and the contribution or interaction of other medical conditions. If you do not have a regular GP there should be many competent practitioners in your neighbourhood to choose from. Ask your family and friends to recommend a GP with the age, gender, experience and personality which will make you most comfortable – you may need to see him or her on a regular basis, at least initially.
The GP will ask you about the pain, when it started, what it feels like and how severe is it. It will be helpful for you, and for the treating GP, if you can describe the pain, explain what makes it worse and what things improve the pain. As part of its membership kit, APMA provides members with a pain chart, where the intensity of pain, contribution of various activities undertaken and sleep can be easily recorded and charted to help you and your GP.
The chart is useful by providing evidence of the intensity and the duration of your pain and provide your GP with a comprehensive picture of your pain pattern to have an accurate assessment of your treatment needs.
Describing your pain can be difficult to do, and to help you a list of pain descriptors is included in the resources section of this website.
PAIN DESCRIPTION AND INTENSITY
It is important to let your GP know how the pain affects you, what activities you can do in spite of the pain, and what is difficult and painful to do. Again this can be tabulated so that you can monitor your activities in conjunction with your pain levels.
The GP will ask about previous illnesses, previous surgery and any past injuries.
Your GP will then examine you and may arrange for blood tests to rule out disease or infection which may be causing the pain, and will assist with the diagnosis. An x ray or a CT scan may also be ordered to examine the site of the pain. Your GP may refer you to see a specialist if it is clinically necessary. Your GP will discuss any test results with you and explain any referral which is made.
When you see a medical specialist they will ask you about the pain, your level of activities and previous illnesses and operations. Your pain chart and the brochure, 'How to tell your doctor what's really going on' will be helpful for this assessment. Once the specialist assessment is completed the specialist will draw up a management plan which will include medications, physical therapies, a program of activities or exercises, and may include a weight loss program, procedural therapy such as nerve blocks, or even surgery.