We hear this story all too often at PPOA clinics. A patient comes to us exasperated – they’ve been to every doctor and specialist in their area trying to express the magnitude of their pain or fatigue. Test after test; question after never-ending question; and yet, their doctors still can’t give them any other answer than “It’s all in your head.” Hearing this repeatedly makes the patient start to doubt their own experiences and honestly believe they’ve gone crazy.
This worsens when their family starts to doubt their experience. Loved ones start to tune, saying, “You must be faking it so you can get out of this or that.” They may tell you you’re lazy, exaggerating, or simply trying to get your hands on pain medication. But the pain is still there, and it’s real.
Some of these patients end up in our clinics, where they finally find what they’ve been looking for. A physician sits down with them, asks about their pain, and has someone believe them for the first time in a long time. At PPOA, our first response is to diagnose and treat, not assume our patients are wrong about their symptoms. Invisible pain is accurate, and there are options out there for those who refuse to give up.
Why Your Pain Is Being Ignored
Many chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, are challenging to diagnose with blood tests or scans. Therefore, physicians rely on self-reported symptoms and patient history to determine a diagnosis. An experienced physician will assess the clues and correctly diagnose these chronic pain conditions. Still, inexperienced physicians or those who do not work with chronic pain may miss these signs.
This is why psychological diagnoses are commonly used to explain chronic pain, even if not the actual cause. To add to this problematic situation, women develop chronic pain conditions at much higher rates. The medical field has had a strong history of misdiagnosing women’s health issues. Despite the headway made in today’s society, many women work against subconscious prejudice when going to the doctor for their chronic pain.
How To Cope With Undiagnosed Chronic Pain
The most important thing we encourage patients to do is not give up. There is a diagnosis for you, and it often begins with finding the right pain specialist who will treat your condition seriously. Below are three steps.
Journal your symptoms.
Chronic pain conditions are difficult to diagnose, so the more information you can give to your doctor, the better equipped you’ll both be to find a solution. Keeping a daily journal of symptoms over a few weeks or months can help your doctor spot patterns and better understand your condition.
Listen to your body.
Many people with undiagnosed chronic pain feel they have to “fake it” or hide their symptoms around those who don’t believe them. They are led to believe that they are a burden, but this can inhibit your recovery and make you push your body beyond its limits. Just remember, you come first before other people’s beliefs of you.
Don’t let shaming affect your search for answers.
Others will likely try to tell you that your pain is exaggerated or that you’re trying to get pain killers from your doctor. This shaming reflects those around you, not a reflection of your character. Tune out this negativity, even from well-meaning loved ones, because it will only hinder your search for answers.
PPOA is a specialist in all types of chronic pain, and we work toward long-lasting solutions that won’t slow you down. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation for your undiagnosed chronic pain, give your local office a call today!