Listening to the Patient

First and foremost, when obtaining the history from a pain patient, it is essential to listen to the patient. Successful clinicians are the ones who let their patients tell them about their symptoms. For example, when a patient complains of pain in the calves after walking a short distance, this could be a clue toward the diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease or lumbar spinal stenosis. When a patient complains of pain in one or both wrists especially while typing on a keyboard, it could be secondary to the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. A patient describing a sharp shooting pain starting in the low back area, with radiation to the distal lower extremity, might be suffering from S1 radiculopathy. However, in light of the current health-care environment it is also very important to manage time efficiently. Hence, asking focused questions will guide the process in a productive way.

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