How to Have the Conversation With Your Doctor about Your Pain

When it comes to back and neck pain, there are few, if any, definitive tests that can accurately measure and diagnose the experience. Using an objective testing method such as an MRI or CT scan is nearly impossible when it comes to back and neck pain. Pain levels fluctuate, in terms of timing, intensity, and quality, which makes an MRI or CT scan pretty useless to get a true picture of what someone experiences on a day to day basis.

Preparing for the important conversation with your doctor comes as a big responsibility for you then. You have to let your doctor know all about the pain you are experiencing. One thing that can help is keeping a pain journal for about a week or weeks leading up to the appointment. Below are some important bits of information your doctor is going to want to understand during the diagnostic process.

Describe the pain

The quality of your pain may mean something about what is causing it. Trying to be as descriptive as possible when it comes to the pain you are feeling. Make sure to share if it is aching, burning, stabbing, throbbing, sharp, dull, cramping, or electrical sensations. The more expansive you can be with your language while keeping it accurate, the better your communication with your doctor will likely be.

It is also important to point out or explain exactly where you are feeling the pain. Sometimes where you are feeling the pain may not be exactly where it is coming from. If a nerve root is damaged the pain may radiate down an arm or leg but the arm or leg may not be the problem. If you have trigger points you may experience referred pain or pain located in an area that seems unrelated to the site of the problem.

It is also important to clarify the time of your pain. Note if it comes on suddenly or slowly over time, and if it is constantly present or only sometimes. Note if the pain is worse in the morning or at night. Also note if it gets better or worse after doing a specific activity such as sitting, standing, laying down or walking.

It is also important to let your doctor know if there are certain things you cannot do anymore because of the pain. If now you can’t take the stairs or if sleep has become troublesome are things your doctor will want to know.

Keeping a chronic pain journal will help you describe your symptoms to your doctor so they can more easily come up with a treatment plan for you. There are a variety of interventional therapies for people who suffer from acute or persistent pain. Being able to narrow down what could have caused your pain can help your appointment go as smoothly as possible.

Employee Spotlight: Kristin

Meet Kristin, Intake & Eligibility Representative at Twin Cities Pain Clinic! Kristin was nominated by her fellow staff members for her dedication to her job. Kristin came in with such a positive attitude and willingness to learn. Her great personality is a wonderful addition to the team! Thank you for all you do Kristin!

What is your position / What are your daily responsibilities?

I am an Intake & Eligibility Representative here at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. My responsibilities include scheduling new patients and verifying their insurance.

How long have you been with TCPC?

I have been working at TCPC for about 5 months and am loving every minute of it!

What are some of your hobbies?

I enjoy spending time at my cabin with my family and friends. I love cruising around the lake and waterskiing.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

My favorite thing about working at TCPC is the staff. I love how supportive everyone is and there is always someone willing to help when I need it! I am so lucky to be part of such a great team and I look forward to my future here at TCPC!



Twin Cities Pain Clinic has been named a Top Workplace by the Star Tribune. This great award wouldn't be possible without our amazing staff members. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.

The Best and Worst Foods for Persistent Pain

Certain types of food can cause inflammation in the body. When consuming these inflammatory causing foods for a long period of time, one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes increase. Chronic inflammation can even raise your risk of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.  Switching to a diet that is free of inflammation causing foods can help reverse some of these conditions and reduce pain and inflammation.

Inflammation is described as the body’s response to an injury or an infection. You may experience the symptoms of pain, heat, redness, and swelling, otherwise known as acute inflammation. Other times, inflammation becomes chronic (think of it as happening over and over again), it then begins to wreak havoc on the body.

Unfortunately, you can’t see chronic inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells and organs and cause constant pain in muscles, tissues, and joints.

Inflammation can be caused by a variety of different things. Genetics, stress, smoking, lack of exercise, and diet are all factors. Diet is a great starting point to focus on, especially since many believe a lot of diseases start in the “gut”.

It is a fact that when we are well nourished, we heal quicker. Unfortunately, many Americans consume inflammatory causing foods daily. Sugar, dairy, gluten, trans fat, and refined grains have become part of our every day meals, and all can cause inflammation. It is important to remember that inflammation is not caused by simply one or two foods, but an overall effect of a diet.

Switching your diet to one that consists of anti-inflammatory meals can be medicine for the body. Some basics of an anti-inflammatory diet are:

Try to eliminate:

  • Refined sugars and flours
  • Most omega-6 oils (such as corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils)
  • Saturated or trans fats and fried foods
  • Processed meats
  • Reduce the amount of carbohydrates, especially processed carbs

Try to focus your dietary intake on:

  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, bok choy)
  • Tree nuts (walnuts and almonds)
  • Wild caught fatty fish that are high in omega-3 (salmon, mackerel and sardines)
  • Highly pigmented fruit (berries, pomegranate and cherries)

Food doesn’t have to be boring. Try eating a wide variety of foods by eating colors of the rainbow to make your plates bright and nutritious. When choosing food items aim for quality. Ideally that would be grass-fed and pasture raised meats, as they support the highest nutrient levels. Aim for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods when possible. And try to also consume dairy products and red meat in limited quantities.

Eating a nutritious diet may not completely eliminate your chronic pain, but it is a step in the right direction that you can control. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can help reverse or reduce some conditions such as developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes. There is no magical food that can make everything better, but, eating the right combination of foods can help produce remarkable results.