About Doctors

Although a necessary requirement for using doctors is to start mastering yourself, it is just as important to understand who and what you may have to deal with when seeking help for your pain.

The first and perhaps most surprising thing you need to know is that most medical doctors receive very little if any formal training in the management of pain. While excellent training programs in pain management exist, they are relatively few in number and usually attended by doctors who have already completed their training. There is no officially recognized specialty in pain medicine in Canada and the United States. Thus any doctor can legally call himself/herself a pain specialist regardless of qualifications.

Lack of adequate physician training means that access to care is limited. Despite increasing recognition in the medical literature of the high human and economic cost of chronic pain, getting appropriate treatment remains a struggle for far too many patients. Therapies available on the Internet and elsewhere may number in the hundreds or more but none is a sure-fire cure and many are suspect.

When seeking help, you must be armed with an understanding of the above. There are limits to the amount of care you can get from doctors, depending on their experience and/or area of expertise. Knowing this, you can avoid feeling you have to beg for or demand a kind of care from a doctor unequipped to provide it.  It is far more productive to regard a doctor as a source of information or possessor of skills that can be of use to you, even if only in a limited way.

While the reality of chronic pain is a grim one, it is also a changing one. Chronic pain is far more widely recognized as a disease than it was even 20 years ago. Research has established the need for multidisciplinary approaches to treatment. There is good help available. It is just not perfect or found in every office, clinic and hospital. Even if the doctor you see can’t take away your pain, that same doctor may still be able to help in some fashion. If you want a doctor for an ally you must learn what he or she can actually do for you and be willing to learn about it.

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