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How should I talk to my doctor about my pain?

If you are living with serious illness or are simply planning ahead for your own or a loved one's future, having a frank discussion with your doctor is a good idea. Putting things into words, getting more information, and asking questions can help you get the kind of medical treatments you want.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor about managing pain in serious illness and at life's end:
  • Are there deficiencies in pain management for seriously ill hospitalized patients?
  • Where can I get help with pain management?
  • Is this what patients want when facing serious illness? Is this what patients want if they might be at the end of life?
  • What are some of the ways that pain can be treated in a medical or caregiving setting?
  • What are opioids? Aren't opioids bad for a patient? Don't they cause addiction and do more harm than good?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

The type of pain you experience can offer clues to its cause. Keep these factors in mind when describing your pain to your doctor.

  • Where the pain is located
  • When you first noticed the pain
  • What precipitated the pain
  • How long you have had the pain
  • How long the pain lasts when it comes
  • How often the pain occurs
  • What you do or take that makes it worse
  • What you do or take that makes it better
  • What it feels like - stabbing, throbbing, stinging etc.
  • What other symptoms you have
  • What you think it is

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.