At what point should you seek a pain management specialist for your pain? If you have been experiencing persistent pain for three months or longer, which regularly impacts your quality of life, you should seek the help of a pain management specialist. Physicians who are board certified in pain management have received additional training in evidence-based diagnosis and treatment of pain conditions.

When you make the decision to seek help from a specialist, there are several things you can do to prepare for your visit:

Compile information associated with your current pain complaint. This includes previous medical records, x-rays, CT scans and MRIs. Bring a complete list of the medications you are currently taking, including any non-prescription medications and herbal supplements. It is helpful to know the dose and frequency of your medications, as well as how effective they have been. Be sure to make note of allergies and side effects experienced.

Think about the activities that make your pain better or worse. Make a list of activities or techniques that have either helped or hindered your efforts to manage your pain. You may find keeping a pain journal helps you identify how you feel after specific activities.

Do some research. There are plenty of reputable websites that can provide you with information about various treatments and therapies as well as tools to help you prepare for your visit. The U.S. Pain Foundation has plenty of free tools you can use to help you better prepare.

Think about your emotional state. Have you been feeling depressed or anxious? What things have you done to cope with the emotional component of pain? What role does your support system (friends, family, etc.) play in your ability to manage your pain? Depression is a common byproduct of chronic pain, so do not be afraid to discuss these feelings with your doctor.

Identify your goals for treatment. Setting realistic goals is an important component of your treatment plan. It’s most effective when both short-term and long-term goals are set. Goals can keep you motivated on days when you are not feeling your best. Most importantly, share your goals with your doctor so you can work together to achieve them.

At Haven Spine + Pain, we will take the time to thoughtfully evaluate your pain and create an individualized, evidence-based treatment plan. We hope to work with you to achieve your goals of returning to the life you want.