Setting Realistic Functional Goals in Chronic Pain Treatment Agreements


The expert panelists discuss how they set realistic functional goals for their chronic pain patients in informed consent treatment agreements.

According to Joseph Pergolizzi, MD, “way too often, we are treating the number” on a pain score scale, rather than working to improve a patient’s function.

“Let’s face it: the numerical rating score … is oversimplification of something that is very, very complicated, (so) that shouldn’t be the focus of the follow-up or the initial intake,” Christopher Gharibo, MD, notes. “I wouldn’t recommend even asking your patients what (their) pain level is (or) what (their) pain score is.”

Instead of measuring pain scores, Vitaly Gordin, MD, says he asks his patients what functional goals they wish to accomplish and then joins in their efforts to decrease pain and increase function through gentle exercise, smoking cessation, and other effective methods.

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