The question seems so basic, yet it’s not such a simple answer. Arriving at the correct answer is the most important component to helping you reduce and manage your pain.
That’s why the most significant step you as a pain patient are taking is having a physician who specializes in pain examine you and evaluate you thoroughly. The evaluation phase should include:
- a hands-on physical examination
- a discussion of your pain, including how long you have been in pain, a description of the pain you suffer and its severity, if anything makes your pain worse or improves it somewhat
- crafting a record of your health history including previous surgeries and procedures, pregnancies and birth control methods, and chronic or recurring health conditions
- creating an accurate list of all medications that you take or have taken recently, including prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements
- an accurate description of your life, including how active you are, whether you have stairs in your home, what your work commitments are like, how much you drive daily
- an inventory of the social and psychological stressors in your life, including past psychiatric issues, relationship worries and recent or recurring life events
After this first meeting, the doctor may order a battery of exams, including X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, digital motion X-rays, VAT testing, ultrasound imaging, neuropsychological exams, physical therapy evaluation and even more.
It takes time and reflection on the part of Dr. Bleiberg to evaluate you and to arrive at a diagnosis. But the most important thing to remember is that no treatment can begin until the diagnosis is pronounced. In order to not cause more pain or even accelerate a disease process (like a growing tumor), the order is immutable: DIAGNOSIS, THEN TREATMENT!
Lots of pain patients want a quick fix or to start treatment right away. But rushing the diagnosis by a medical doctor not only does not help, it can cause harm. Only after a thorough and complete evaluation, can the health care team proceed with beginning to mitigate your pain.