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A Pain in My Head: Three Things I Learned October 20, 2009

Posted by Admin in Health Insurance, Women.
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Recently I had an illness, which was accompanied by the worst pain ever. I attended a talk this past weekend by a professor in what might be the leading program on pain management in the country. My question to her was what is the best way to talk to a physician about pain? I told 4 different providers that I had a headache on one side of my head and that it came as often as once per minute and that was not descriptive enough. They did ask some questions about eyesight etc. that seemed to rule out the risk or occcurrence of an aneurysm or a stroke.

Her advice was threefold:

  1. Be Specific and Descriptive: such as “a stabbing, searing recurrent pain two inches above my right eye”.  Using a “key word” such as headache, seems to lead physicians down a specific path that may not be the path you need to travel.
  2. Remember that doctors receive very little pain management training-it is not even a residency speciality like obstetrics, surgery, urology, pediatrics etc. So s not always the first tool they go for in the toolbox. In fact, sometimes the “last resort” is to send the patient to pain management. The “Interventional” Pain Management programs may be able to get you to a diagnosis more quickly.
  3. Nerves can cause pain. In my case, I probably had nerve pain related to the swelling caused by the infection. I was initially given Vicoden for the pain, as acetaminophen was not acting on the pain. That made me feel woozy, but with a searing, recurrent pain. So I was still in pain, but I couldn’t complain as loudly. One of the physicians discussed nerve pain with me, but this one was the 4th one that I had spoken to last week. Apparently Vicoden doesn’t work on nerve pain.
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