As a patient, you might find yourself needing to talk to your provider about treatment options for pain. These conversations are as equally as important as they are difficult, so here are some tips to help you get the information you need:
Discuss your expectations for pain management
Pain is part of the healing process, and different people have different thresholds for pain. It’s important to discuss the level of pain you might expect and the estimated duration of it. Talk to your provider about your goals for pain relief and resuming your regular activities, both of which will be factors in your pain management plan.
Understand your treatment options
Using prescription opioid medications is a common way to treat pain but there are other options. Non-opioid treatments, including prescription strength or over-the-counter analgesics, physical therapy, and mind-body therapies (like yoga and meditation), can be effective approaches to treating and managing pain.
Discuss alternatives with your provider to determine what combination of treatments might be right for you.
Learn about the side effects and risks
Opioids can have numerous side effects, including decreased respiration, sleepiness, dizziness, and constipation. Ask your provider about possible interactions with other medications and the risk of developing a dependence that could lead to opioid use disorder. Remember that your pharmacist can also answer questions, and review instructions and warning labels included with your prescription.
Make it personal
Tell your provider if there is a history of addiction in your family. Could your medication pose a risk to you or someone else in your household? Talk about your current circumstances, such as who lives in your home, then develop a plan for safe use, storage, and disposal.
If you are concerned about the quantity of medication in your home, ask your pharmacist about getting a partial fill to limit quantities on hand. Remember, once in your possession, it’s your responsibility to safely use, store, and dispose of the medication.Find more tips on provider conversations at pa-foundation.org/substance-use-disorder/.
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