When you're in pain, people may tell you that they "know
how you feel" - but do they really know? Studies have shown
that physicians tend to rate their patients' pain lower than
the patients themselves in cancer and postoperative cases.
Do primary care physicians also misinterpret other patients'
recent study in the British Journal of General Practice
examined the variation between practitioner and patient perceptions
of pain intensity. Nearly 30 general practitioners in Finland
and more than 700 of their patients seeking pain relief rated
the patients' perceived pain levels. A visual pain scale was
utilized, with "no pain" at one extreme and the "worst imaginable
pain" at the other; a person would make a mark on the scale
at the place where they thought their pain level ranked.
There was little similarity between doctor and patient ratings
of an individual's pain. Patients rated their pain significantly
higher than did their physicians in chronic-pain cases. In
other words, people who experienced long-term suffering were
in more pain than their doctors realized. In fact, general
practitioners rated pain intensity significantly lower than
the sufferer in almost 40% of cases, and higher in 30% of
cases - usually for acute pain. The most severe pain cases
showed the greatest differences between patient and practitioner
It is critical that you always communicate with your doctor
as openly and effectively as possible. By doing so, you can
avoid possible misinterpretation of your pain levels and symptoms
of serious conditions. If you suffer from chronic pain, ask
your doctor of chiropractic about different methods, such
as a visual pain scale, for evaluating your pain and recovery.
P, Kumpusalo E, Ahonen R, et al. Patients' versus general
practitioners' assessments of pain intensity in primary care
patients with non-cancer pain. British Journal of General
Practice 2001:51, pp. 995-997.
For more information on general health, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general/other/index.html.