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Going to the doctor about your pain as not as simple as it ought to be. The doctor is a skilled professional, but also a human being with limited time. Chronic pain is hard to describe, but it is important to make sure your doctor understands your symptoms. You want to know what is causing the pain, and if specific causes have been considered and dismissed, the ultimate diagnosis may be of fibromyalgia, a complicated syndrome involving chronic pain. The cause of fibromyalgia is controversial but the symptoms are real, and it can be debilitating.
Here are some suggestions for things to think about before your appointment, so that you can get the best advice about fibromyalgia pain management.
Keep a pain diary
For a week or so before the appointment, you should note down the times when the pain is at its worst, and when it feels better. What activities trigger it, how long does it last and how bad is it?
Try to place your pain on a scale of 1-10
Your doctor is almost certain to ask you how bad the pain is on a scale of 1-10. You need to think about that in advance, as it is important not to minimize the pain. It is easy to get used to making light of it in social situations, in order not to seem too sorry for yourself. You have to make an effort to resist that tendency.
Prioritize your problems
Make sure you mention your main concern first, as it is likely to end up being the main focus of discussion. If you start off by talking about less important issues to get them out of the way, you can find that your main problem is not given much attention. The doctor will assume that the first thing you mention is the reason for your visit. If necessary you can make another appointment to deal with any other issues.
Try to take someone with you
If a friend or family member can come along with you, they can give you moral support, and remind you about points that you may forget to mention if you find visits to the doctor stressful.
Take all relevant information with you
Make a note of your past medical history and significant events. Include the most important parts of your family medical history. This may not be needed but you should be ready with the information just in case. Bring with you any medication you are on, and any test results or reports that you think are relevant.
Take a pen and paper
Pain management usually involves more than just medication, and different approaches may be tried either together or sequentially. It can be difficult to take all this in, so do make notes of what you are told, and repeat your understanding of the plan back to the doctor to check that you have understood it correctly.
Be prepared with any questions you have about your condition, and check that they have been answered before you leave. If a friend is going with you, this is something to discuss with him or her in advance. At the appointment your friend can then double check that everything has been clarified as far as possible. Make sure you understand your diagnosis, the treatment plan, and any steps you need to take before you leave the doctor’s office.
Lewis Mann is a researcher with a medical background. He enjoys sharing his findings on various health blogs.