4 Things For Doctors To Know About Working With Chronic Pain Patients

Health care providers face unique challenges when working with chronic pain patients. However, these individuals can also be the most grateful and rewarding demographic. Many of them approach providers cautiously, laden with trauma from past experiences of medical gaslighting - having their legitimate complaints downplayed. It is understandable that they are skeptical, but they still hold onto hope for empathy and a treatment plan they can agree upon. Here are four essential insights for doctors to effectively collaborate with chronic pain patients and become their lifelines in receiving the necessary care they desperately need.

1. They’re Eager To Be Heard And Understood

Chronic pain patients often face a challenging journey in seeking proper healthcare. The ability to distinguish between providers who genuinely care about their well-being and those who provide minimal support is crucial for these patients, especially women who have frequently witnessed their symptoms being dismissed.

It is imperative for healthcare professionals to actively listen to their patients instead of expecting them to present a pre-determined checklist of symptoms. By asking insightful questions and understanding the impact of their condition on their daily lives, doctors can truly comprehend the severity and frequency of their issues, ensuring comprehensive care.

Investing additional time in these patients not only benefits their quality of life but can also contribute to the growth of a medical practice. According to recent guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), physicians who dedicate at least 20 minutes to care management services for patients with multiple chronic conditions can receive an additional $42 per month. This may appear insignificant at first, but professionals handling a patient load of around 200 could potentially earn an extra $100,000 annually through these services.

2. They’ll Never Stop Looking For Answers

When it comes to chronic pain patients, some healthcare providers mistakenly view their relentless pursuit of a cure as an endorsement of unproven methods. However, many groundbreaking discoveries have occurred by chance. Take penicillin, for example, which revolutionized infectious disease treatment after being stumbled upon through mold. As a healthcare professional, it's important to keep an open mind and inquire about the alternative or holistic therapies your patients have explored and their level of success. By doing so, you may uncover valuable insights that can benefit other patients. Furthermore, this information can guide your treatment plan. For instance, certain supplements like St. John's wort can potentially cause serotonin syndrome when combined with antidepressants, thus it is crucial to inquire about any supplements before prescribing medication.

3. They’re Likely To Comply With Doctors’ Orders

People who suffer from chronic pain should not be dismissed or criticized for seeking attention. On the contrary, most individuals in this population yearn for a normal life and are genuinely frustrated by their limitations. As healthcare professionals, it is important to acknowledge their struggles and provide them with effective guidance and support. It is essential to understand that chronic pain patients are more likely to comply with recommended treatments when they feel understood and supported. Offering practical and tailored advice, rather than generic suggestions, can make a significant difference in their ability to implement necessary changes. For instance, individuals with arthritis are already aware of the benefits of weight loss in reducing joint pressure. However, they may struggle with the practicalities of managing their daily routines, especially if they have demanding jobs or family responsibilities. Instead of simply prescribing appetite suppressants, healthcare providers can offer more feasible solutions. For example, suggesting a selection of healthy, kid-friendly freezer meals that patients can prepare in advance and easily cook before work can be highly beneficial. This approach takes into account their specific circumstances and provides them with actionable steps to improve their health. By understanding the challenges faced by chronic pain patients and providing them with realistic strategies, healthcare professionals can ensure better compliance and overall patient satisfaction. It is crucial to remember that empathy, personalized care, and practical advice are integral components of effective treatment for this population.

4. They Want And Deserve A Provider They Can Trust

Building trust with chronic pain patients is essential for healthcare providers. These individuals, who often belong to multiple support communities, rely on word-of-mouth referrals when seeking quality care. Establishing a reputation as a provider who genuinely listens and cares can lead to high demand for your services.

Helping chronic pain patients not only presents challenges but also opportunities for physicians to make a significant impact in their lives. By familiarizing themselves with the unique dynamics of working with this population, doctors can create a supportive environment that attracts and retains these patients.

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