Learn about getting a comprehensive orofacial pain evaluation and become an educated patient.
One of the most, if not the single most important steps you will take when it comes to your facial pain is to find a doctor that you trust and respect- the perfect doctor for you. Effective long-term patient/doctor relationships must include communication and cooperation by your doctor and you.
A rare disorder requires special knowledge, experience, and in the case of a surgeon, skill.
There are even times when seeking a second opinion is not only appropriate but necessary. To find your perfect doctor, you may need to meet with more than one. You might seek a second opinion when:
Second opinions are a way to learn about your diagnosis and choices for treatment options. As a patient, you have rights and one of your most important rights is the ability to get a second opinion about your diagnosis. Being informed is critical in deciding your choice of treatment. Statistics show that over one third of adults in the United States will never seek a second opinion and almost one tenth of newly diagnosed patients rarely, or never understand their diagnosis. A second opinion means you are consulting with another doctor to confirm a diagnosis and/or find possible different treatment choices available to you. It is recommended to get a second opinion immediately to avoid delays in your treatment and recovery.
Be clear in your mind about what the reason is for the second opinion. Are you seeking an opinion, or possibly ongoing care from the new provider? Are you prepared to re-think the current diagnosis or treatment plan if this is recommended? This will focus the clinician’s attention on the part of your care that you’re concerned about. There is limited literature about the real-life benefits of second opinions, but if they are mostly being obtained for reasons of communication style and rapport, it would be plausible to assume that you will be more satisfied and do better generally with a clinician you can relate to well.
Some doctors prefer to monitor your facial pain situation and begin with medication or use less aggressive procedures before moving to surgical intervention. Some doctors like to use more aggressive treatment methods from the beginning. By getting a second opinion, you can expand your understanding about different treatment methods which may be most suitable for you and your situation. Being informed is always your best option! Second opinions don’t hurt, and your perfect doctor should be encouraging, not disparaging about your getting another opinion. After all, it is your pain, your body, your choice.
When the first doctor’s opinion is the same or similar to the second doctor’s, your confidence will be increased. A valid opinion and appropriate course of treatment is your best option for your return to good health or and gaining control of this pain. Let your primary healthcare professional know about your facial pain diagnosis and treatment. Communicating to your primary care doctor will help preserve that longer-term relationship and ensure the neurologist or other facial pain specialist you are seeing can get the necessary records.
Be open with the new health professional that you are seeking a second opinion. Second opinions may lead to spending more time and effort, especially if you have to travel to another suburb, town or even state. Be aware that you may feel more obliged to follow advice you’ve gone to so much effort to obtain. This is also one of the reasons that you should have clear in your own mind what the point of the consultation is. Take your time to consider the second opinion as carefully as you did the first.
Do not consider the internet to be the final word on second opinions. The smartest people in medicine are not the ones writing on blogs or Facebook or forums or selling their unique patented products. Stick to reliable, trustworthy sites from established institutions, and use this information to get a “background briefing” rather than to make a diagnosis yourself.
Remember that doctors’ opinions may differ. A different doctor may come up with a different diagnosis for your facial pain, or offer a different opinion as to treatment recommendations. Not every doctor will have the same opinion with regard to diseases and possible treatments. Factors which may have an effect on a doctor’s opinion are: technology available to that doctor, school of thought, where they were trained, when they were trained/who they trained under, individual methods of treatment, and experience in dealing with that particular diagnosis. Treatments and best practices evolve over time, so it is important to understand a new option, even if that option did not exist when the experts who developed certain treatments were around.
While second opinions may be awkward for doctor and patient at times, studies have shown that 30 percent of patients who sought second opinions for elective surgery and 18 percent of those who were required to obtain a second opinion by their insurance company, found that the two opinions were not in agreement. Even when you find your perfect doctor, you need to make sure you are educated properly to make the best decision for your health.
What will it cost? Call your insurance provider before any treatment or second opinion to prevent any confusion or denial of the bill. You need to know exactly what will be covered, such as an out of network provider, any lab work or testing that may be required, and what your responsibilities are before seeking the second opinion. Diagnostic tests can be very costly, and many insurance providers will not pay for them if they were completed for the initial diagnosis. You have the right to have copies of the tests you already had done. Be an informed consumer and arrive for the second opinion with all of your previous medical records, contact information about the first physician, insurance card, list of prescribed medications and allergies, and any diagnostic test results.
Excerpts from Cindy Ezell
Dr. Derek Steinbacher, Director of Craniofacial Surgery, Yale Medicine, Chief of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and Dentistry, FPA Medical Advisory Board member, reviews migraines, TMJ disorders, and dental pain.
Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke will discuss medical treatment of trigeminal neuropathic pain with Dr. Jeffrey Brown.
Wolfgang Liedtke, M.D. Ph.D. is Chair of Neurology, Global Development Scientific Council at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, he was Professor in the Departments of Neurology, Anesthesiology and Neurobiology; Attending Physician, Duke Neurology Clinics and Clinics for Innovative Pain Therapy, serving patients there for over 17 years.
Dr. Mark Linskey, Dr. Richard Zimmerman, and Megan Hamilton discuss what to look for in the decision making process when you are trying to find a doctor and treatment for facial pain.
Dr. Deborah Barrett offers a framework and tools to help people improve their quality of life, just as they are, while also reducing pain and suffering. Her work draws from empirically based cognitive and behavioral interventions, and she practices what she preaches every day.
Dr. Larry Arbeitman will answer: What is Upper Cervical Chiropractic? How does is differ from traditional Chiropractic methods? Learn about the connection between the Upper Cervical Spine and Facial Pain, research and case studies, what you can expect from UCC and how you can integrate it into your healthcare plan. You will also be able to ask Dr. Arbeitman your questions during this live presentation.
In this webinar, Dr. Jeffrey Brown, Chairman of the FPA Medical Advisory Board, talks about the top questions patients and their loved ones have regarding trigeminal neuralgia.
Jennifer M. Wagner, Executive Director of the Western Pain Society, explains the brain-body connection with an emphasis on pain response and provides a list of strategies for those affected by chronic pain.
Dr. Raymond Sekula, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Director of the Cranial Nerve Disorders Program at UPMC, and FPA Medical Advisory Board member reviews the challenges that can complicate the care of people with neuropathic facial pain.
Complementary health approaches, also referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), integrative health therapies, and other terms, refers to a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, […]
Dr. Jeffrey Brown, Chairman of the Facial Pain Association’s Medical Advisory Board, interviews Dr. Hossein Ansari on medical causes of neuropathic facial pain.
Neuropathic facial pain is diagnosed almost exclusively by the individual’s description of the symptoms. Dr. Kim Burchiel developed a list of questions to help doctors determine exactly which classification may describe a […]
Facial pain can be described in many words…but if you had to choose just one, what would it be? The YPC recently shared how we would describe TN in one word and how we plan to overcome TN.
Dr. Julie Pilitsis, Chair of the Department of Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics Professor of Neurosurgery Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Albany Medical Center and FPA Medical Advisory Board member presents an overview of trigeminal neuralgia and other neuropathic facial pains.
Dr. Konstantin Slavin discusses neuromodulation, a procedure used to treat and enhance quality of life in individuals who suffer severe chronic illness due to persistent pain.
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