Pain is one way our bodies tell us when something is wrong. The last few years has seen many changes in hospital policies moving towards better treatment of pain. Pain is now considered the “fifth vital sign” with Temp, heart rate, respirations, and blood pressure. Many States, the veterans administration and Joint Commission have made policy stating; "that pain be assessed and treated promptly, effectively, and for as long as pain persists." . As patients we have a right to be treated with respect even when it relates to our chronic pain. So why do so many suffer with inadequate pain management?
2011 Consumer Guide to Pain Medication & Treatment states Medication-related problems would rank fifth among the leading causes of death in the United States if they were considered a disease. Although opioid pain medications can be a useful tool in the treatment of pain, the misuse of opioid (narcotic) pain medications has become a national issue. The abuse of prescription opioid pain medications now ranks second—only behind marijuana - as the nation’s most prevalent illegal drug problem. It is a federal crime to take a controlled substance that has not been prescribed for oneself. (pg11)
New laws are being put in place so doctors are again afraid to prescribe pain medications, pharmacies have extra paperwork to dispense pain medications, and patients are left to suffer. Yet even law enforcement state that it is important to fight addiction but not at the expense of not treating pain. So, how can we improve our pain control?
Everyone on the team has to speak the same language. If you don’t understand each other misunderstanding will lead to ineffective treatment.
A scale is generally used to rate pain. The problem is that it is very subjective. Marie Lamond Levesque, a fellow RA Warrior posted to the discussion board a wonderful Pain Scale. I recommend printing it and putting it in you folder so you and the doctor are understanding exactly what your pain level is and how it affects your life.
Is the goal to be pain free? Is that realistic with your disease progression? Maybe just being able to cook dinner. The goal will be very individual but should be about improved quality of life. If you are a zombie it isn’t healthy and if you hurt to bad to move it isn’t healthy. Strive for the middle. Write down your goal so you and your doctor are both clear on where you want to go.
Keep some type of log or journal and take it with you to the doctor. Just a notebook works or there are several online tracking tools and even some u can print and put in a binder. The ACAP has several tools to help with documentation. I really like their Fibro log even for RA.