When your doctor does not believe your pain

Do you think your doctor believes your painThe simple fact that I was compelled to write this blog post represents a very sad state of affairs in today’s healthcare. You trust your doctor to help you and you cry out for help. You are in a lot of pain but the doctor simply does not believe you.

It is sad to report that it happens more often than you think. Most doctors are not as compassionate as you hope them to be. They are generally biased against the so called “drug seeking patients.” Sadly, many doctors seem to adopt the you-are-a-drug-seeker-unless-proven-otherwise mentality. They hesitate to give you strong pain medicine to relieve your pain. They hesitate to reorder your pain medicine when it wears off.

What I am about to advice you here can be called unconventional at best and controversial at worst but sometimes you need these strategies to make sure that your doctor does not ignore your pain.

First, you need to learn what kind of behavior arises suspicion in the doctor’s mind. These are some points worth noting:

1. “Hurts all over”: You may truly have pain all over your body but when a doctor hears these words “hurts all over”, it raises a red flag in their mind. When your symptoms appear non-specific, it throws off the doctor’s mind. They start to have second thoughts about your intentions.

How to explain your symptoms when you truly hurt all over?

Start with where the pain started and where it went from there. Be as specific as you can: describe what type of pain it was, how it started, how it progressed and how it spread to the rest of your body. When you tell the whole story with as many specific details as you can, you will not only convince the doctor that the pain is real but you will also give him the specific details that help him narrow down the cause of the pain. 

2. “Nothing works for my pain”: You may have tried different things at home, and none of them may have helped you but when your doctor hears “nothing works for my pain”, they immediately start thinking about narcotic seeking behavior. They think you are asking for narcotics when you say nothing works for your pain.

How do you explain it when nothing works for your pain?

Tell the doctor what medications you tried and how they worked or did not work. If you took tylenol and it had only minimal effects, tell the exact effect. For example , you can say that your pain was 10/10 in intensity and when you took the tylenol, it barely went down to a 9.5/10. You can then describe what actually happened when you tried other pills. When you give your numerical pain scale and the effects of different things you tried, it not only convinces the doctor about the true intensity of your pain, it also helps them choose the right kind of pain medicine to use for the specific type of pain.

3. “I need Dilaudid”: You may have a chronic or a recurrent type of pain that may only responds to Dilaudid but nothings screams “narcotic seeker” in a doctor’s mind than someone asking for Dilaudid. To those of you not familiar with Dilaudid, it is a very potent(strong) member of a class of medicines call opioids (also commonly known as narcotics or narcs). To be fair to the doctors, it truly is a common type of medication that is abused by many drug addicts.

How do you explain it when your pain only responds to Dilaudid?

This is the toughest of all. It is hard to ask for Dilaudid without raising a red flag in the doctor’s mind. One thing you can do is accurately describe your past experiences with different pain medications. Instead of saying ¬†only dilaudid works, describe what led you to that conclusion. Describe what exactly happened last time you were in the hospital for a similar pain. You can tell him what medicine they used first and what happened. For example, “Last time they gave me some tylenol first, it barely took my pain down to 9/10 from 10/10. Then they gave me some morphine, it worked a little better. My pain went down to 8/10 but it was still unbearable. Finally they gave me dilaudid and I had some relief, my pain went down to 5/10.”

When the doctor looks for your record in the computer and sees the facts, he will have no doubts about your level of pain and will be inclined to give you the medicine that you need.

It is sad that I have to tell you how to make your doctor believe you. There is also a risk that someone truly addicted to narcotics can use these instructions to avoid raising red flags and get the narcotics they want. However, the number of true drug seekers are far less than the number of patients with true pain suffering unnecessarily. If one drug seeker gets away with a narcotic prescription in return for a hundred patients getting the pain relief they need, I would still consider this blog post successful.

Please write your opinions or experiences on the subject in the comments below. I will respond to your comments to the best of my ability. I cannot, however, give you specific recommendations for your medical problem.