This can lead to frustrating encounters at the primary-care level, especially if your doctor is rushed.
"Doctors don't want patients to suffer, they want people to get better," says Bill McCarberg, MD, founder of the Chronic Pain Management Program at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. "But they feel stress, they feel time constraints, they have to deal with pre-authorizations, it's not the kind of practice they wanted. They're stressed, and that leads to moving patients along."
"As a doctor in today's medical system, it's difficult to deal with chronic pain conditions," agrees S. Sam Lim, MD, a rheumatologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Most practices are forced to see a certain number of patients in a limited amount of time. [With chronic pain] it's not so simple as five minutes, a few questions, and handing out a pill. It takes some time. And our system isn't set up for that."
"The patient needs to realize that the doctor may not be able to discern what's going on in the first visit. Often it takes a few visits," says Dr. Lim.