Systematically educating yourself about your care is a critical part of the DOCC Project. With chronic pain, there are many sources of anxiety. Not only is there anxiety associated with having pain, but this anxiety is increased by not having enough knowledge to develop a game plan. As you become increasingly frustrated with being bouced around the medical system, you’re anxiety and pain will increase. You can decrease it by learning about what’s involved in taking charge of your own care. There’s a lot of detailed information and the education process requires a strong commitment, but think of it as your responsibility in the recovery process. Start with your specific condition and then find out about the different treatments available, both operative and non-operative.
Patients will often make decisions regarding major spine surgery with less research than they would do if buying a new car. I think that the reason for this is that patients trust their doctors to make the right decision for them. However, physicians are not able to really understand your life and pain as well as you are. Not even your own family can completely understand what is going on in your head. Surgeons also are not trained in all the variables involved in chronic pain. There is not a more important priority in your life than solving your problems around your pain. Do not turn them over to anyone.