More than three decades ago, the International Association for the Study of Pain developed a definition of “pain” that emphasized the emotional, as well as the physical, experience of patients. This can be particularly valid for patients suffering from degenerative conditions within the spinal vertebrae, which can be extremely disruptive and difficult to diagnose. Chronic back or neck pain often takes weeks to diminish, a period of uncertainty that can give rise to frustration, anger, anxiety, despair or worse.
The best way to combat uncertainty and its potential emotional impact is to become as educated as possible about your condition. Not many of us are well-versed in the integral role the spinal vertebrae play in our day-to-day physical activity, which is why it’s important to maintain an open dialogue with your health care provider. Here are a few ways to find peace of mind through conversations with your physician:
- Explain how your symptoms affect you emotionally, and ask for a detailed medical explanation of the cause of the symptoms
- Ask for a detailed, easily understandable explanation of the tests being performed and their results
- If exercise or other physical activity is recommended by your physician, ask how best to perform this activity without risking further injury
- Ask for clearly stated, written explanations of the diagnosis and prognosis, so you won’t have to try to recall it from memory once you leave the doctor’s office
- Monitor your own stress level, which can be based on sleep patterns as well as feelings of irritability and helplessness
Consider the Alternatives
Should your physician recommend surgery to treat chronic pain within the spinal vertebrae, don’t limit your options to traditional open back surgery, such as vertebral fusion. For the ultimate peace of mind, contact Laser Spine Institute (LSI) to learn how to regain your life through a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using gentle, endoscopic techniques.