Preparation is key

Appointments with doctors can be short; therefore, before your appointment about your chronic pain, it can be beneficial to prepare key points that you want to discuss with your doctor.

Key pieces of information your doctor may want to know are:1

  • When did the pain start?
  • Where is the pain?
  • How long does the pain last?
  • How bad is the pain (e.g. does it interfere with day-to-day activities)?
  • How would you describe your pain?
  • Do you have any other symptoms along with your pain (e.g. nausea, numbness)?
  • Have you done or taken anything to treat the pain prior to this appointment?
You can read more about ways to prepare for your appointment.

Setting realistic goals

Once you’ve discussed your pain, it is important to work with your doctor to set realistic short- and long-term goals.2 It may not be possible to completely alleviate your pain but reducing your pain and working towards reintroducing activities that you used to enjoy may be possible.

To begin setting your goals, your doctor may ask you questions like: 3

  • How would you like your current situation to change?
  • What are your expectations for treatment?
  • If we make changes to your way of dealing with pain, how would your life be different from what it is today?

With this information, you and your doctor can work together to tailor your treatment to your needs and priorities.4,5 Remember, there could be factors contributing to your pain that you might not typically think of, so be open to suggested solutions.

Continuing to monitor your pain

Once you’ve discussed and agreed upon a management plan, it’s important to continue to monitor your pain. Not only will this let you see how well your treatment is working or whether changes need to be made (if it is not working so well), it will also help you to see how far you have come and note the successes you have achieved.6

Take a look at some of the other resources in the CHANGE your pain section for hints and tips that you may find helpful for managing your pain.


  1. Clayton H, Reschak G, Gaynor S, Creamer J. A novel program to assess and manage pain. Medsurg Nurs 2000;9:318–21.
  2. Henry SG, Matthias MS. Patient-clinician communication about pain: A conceptual model and narrative review. Pain Med (United States) 2018;19:2154–65.
  3. Nijs J, Wijma AJ, Willaert W, et al. Integrating motivational interviewing in pain neuroscience education for people with chronic pain: A practical guide for clinicians. Phys Ther 2020;100:846–59.
  4. Australian Department of Health & Human Services. What is person-centred health care? A literature review. 2011.
  5. Royal College of General Practitioners. Inquiry into patient centred care in the 21st century. 2014.
  6. De Wit R, Van Dam F, Hanneman M, et al. Evaluation of the use of a pain diary in chronic cancer pain patients at home. Pain 1999;79:89–99.

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