Why (Some) Doctors Don’t Take Your Chronic Pain Seriously

woman with pain at the doctor's ordination

Chronic pain sufferers have a tough row to hoe.  I know, because I frequently treat them.

On top of all the pain, sleep problems and trying to maintain normalcy of some kind in their lives, there are doctors out there who don’t take them seriously.

Imagine going to your doctor for help, only to be told that there’s nothing wrong with you and to carry on as best you can.

That’s the case for far too many people with chronic pain issues.  They feel abandoned by the very professionals in place to help.

So, this post is about why (some) doctors don’t take your chronic pain seriously.  If you feel your pain has been minimized by your primary care provider, you may recognize some of this and you may want to think about finding yourself a less dismissive doctor, too.

Myths and Folklore

Medicine is based on science.  That’s why it disturbs me that some doctors don’t take chronic pain seriously.  You’re in pain.  But while you know that’s true, your doctor’s inability to find the root cause for your pain can lead to the introduction of myths and folklore about people with chronic pain taking precedence over science.

When a doctor feels unsure, she’s liable to cast the chronic pain sufferer in the role of malingerer – someone attempting to get out of work by claiming a health condition.  Alternatively, they’ll write you off as someone suffering delusions and ill mental health.

Nice, right?  It’s quite a rude awakening to have a professional you trust tell you it’s “all in your head”, or that you’re a skilled grifter, working the system.  And working the system, in the mind of some doctors. is a way for you to perhaps obtain prescription pain medication like Oxycontin or fentanyl, casting the chronic pain sufferer in the role of a drug addict.  Ouch!

So, what’s the problem with these doctors?

What’s the Doc Thinking?

Like most of us, doctors have secret fears.  One of those fears is of professional inadequacy.  Their frustration is often projected onto the patient.  There’s also the very real fact that the USA is in the throes of an opioid epidemic.  Many doctors are afraid to prescribe pain medication they fear may be misused, or wind up sold on the street.  This effect is magnified by the fact that many doctors don’t have a framework for identifying effective non-drug-based therapies.

Doctors may also assume that chronic pain is all the same, or that you haven’t done enough to help yourself.  There’s also a profession-wide reluctance to take on difficult to treat or complex cases.  Doctors want the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped you.  When the problem they’re treating is one requiring time and patience, they often shut down.

Back & Body Medical

At Back & Body, we put our patients first and then, we find effective, tailored solutions to pain.  Working as a team, we listen and then we address pain, combining diverse disciplines like chiropractic, acupuncture, sports medicine and physical therapy.  Contact us.

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