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Use Opioids for Chronic Pain? Make Sure You Can Answer the Following 10 Questions

Managing chronic non-cancer pain with opioids? Are you as educated about your condition as you need to be?

Here are 10 questions you need answers to. If you don’t have comprehensive answers for any of the following questions:

  1. You’ll know what to ask your doctor the next time you see her. You’ll get far more from doctor's visits by going in knowing the specific questions you want to ask.
  2. You should get informed. A few hours spent in preliminary internet research (on authoritative health sites) can help you get prepared for your next appointment.

What’s the Point of Education?

What’s the point of spending so much time wading through complicated health information anyway? Can’t you just rely on your doctor’s expertise and follow her instructions? Isn’t that good enough?

Well, following treatment directives makes more sense than trying to self-diagnose and self-treat a serious condition, but at the same time, you can’t get optimum care unless you play an active role in the healthcare relationship.

According to the experts at SAMHSA, people who get more informed about their condition and treatment:1

  • Are more compliant on treatment plans - You’re more likely to follow-through with treatment directives when you understand the point and necessity of each step.
  • Worry less – You know which medication side-effects are normal and expected and which indicate a potential problem or a need for immediate medical care.
  • Are more satisfied with their treatments – By understanding what you can realistically expect from treatment you eliminate false expectations and possible disappointments.
  • Have better health, well being and outcomes.

10 Questions to Answer

  1. What are the most common medical treatments available for your condition – both medication-based and non-pharmacological?
  2. How much pain relief can you expect from your current treatment?
  3. What are the risks and benefits of your current treatment? What are the risks and benefits of other possible treatment options?
  4. What does each of your medications do? What other medications will negatively interact with any of the drugs you currently use?
  5. What common side effects do your medications cause? Which of these side effects do you sometimes experience? What are the most effective ways to manage the side effects you experience (are you currently taking steps to minimize the severity or to cope with side effects? If not…why not?)
  6. What serious adverse effects are possible with the medications you use?
  7. What complementary and alternative treatments are available to treat your condition? What are the pros and cons and risks and benefits of each?
  8. What's the best way to deal with symptoms flare-ups? Do you change your medication intake to respond to flare-ups?
  9. What are some trustworthy and authoritative internet sites with information on your condition that you can turn to for answers? How do you know these provide good information? Have you ever asked your doctor about the sites that you rely on? Have you ever asked him or her for internet site recommendations?
  10. Under what circumstances do you need to get emergency medical care? Do other people in your household know what symptoms indicate that you need emergency medical care? What symptoms indicate that you need to call your doctor?

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