By Delecia Harris, NP-C
Nurse Practitioner, Shepherd Pain Institute
You have a referral to a pain management office. Now what? If you have not seen a pain management specialist, you may not know what to expect when you arrive for your initial visit. If you have seen a pain specialist in the past, you may have left the visit feeling uncertain or confused about your treatment. How can you get the most out of your visit and make the visits more productive?
Here are five ways you can help your provider help you:
1. Be prepared.
2. Be involved.
3. Be realistic.
You should discuss with your provider what expectations are realistic for you. If you have pain that has persisted for more than six months, it is possible that this pain may be present, to some extent, even with treatment. Pain management generally focuses more on function because it is a more objective indicator of how your pain is affecting your life. You will, most likely, not have 100 percent relief of your pain. The goal of pain management is to restore your function, minimize pain and increase quality of life as much as possible.
4. Be open-minded.
Chronic pain impacts multiple aspects of life, including thought processes, mood and function. Therefore, chronic pain management requires more than one approach. Your provider may refer you to other specialists, such as physical therapists, or recommend you see a psychologist or psychiatrist. Any referrals made by your pain management team are an effort to give you the best outcome.
5. Be patient.
Chronic pain can be a complex process to manage. It may take time for you to see a significant benefit or change in your pain. As the effects of treatment are not always immediate and each patient requires a tailored approach for treatment, patience and flexibility are necessities.
Any ineffective treatments should be discussed with your provider so alternative therapies can be considered.
Remember that you are a partner with your provider in managing your healthcare.Although the provider can diagnose and treat in some ways, there will be some recommendations that only you can do. Commit yourself to working with your provider and doing your part to get the desired result.
Get more information on Shepherd Pain Institute here.
DELECIA HARRIS, NP-C, joined the Shepherd Pain Institute as a nurse practitioner in 2013. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Georgia State University and has been practicing in the pain management specialty since 2008. Her goal for each patient with pain is to empower them to function at their highest potential and have optimal quality of life.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. Last year Shepherd Center had 965 admissions to its inpatient programs and 571 to its day patient programs. In addition, Shepherd Center sees more than 6,600 people annually on an outpatient basis. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at www.shepherd.org