Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Emergency Migraine Pain Treatment: A rock & a hard place


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Let's say your doctor tells you to go to the emergency room when you have a migraine so bad you can't possibly stand it for one more second. I mean, your mental stability is being compromised by the level of pain you're experiencing But when you go to the ER for treatment they tell you that you shouldn't be coming to the ER for treatment of a "chronic pain problem." What are you supposed to do?

On one hand we would be right in saying your regular doctor should help you find a different solution for your ongoing problem. On the other hand we would say the ER should realize an acute migraine attack or worsening of pain is not part of the chronic pain problem. It is an instance of acute pain that warrants being treated just like anyone else's injury or discomfort. Particularly when the pain is so bad it's taking away your mental stability. If pain that horrifyingly bad is not an emergency what is?

Although the notion that pain is an additional vital sign is starting to catch on with medical professionals, too many people still don't want to deal with pain patients. But isn't it the responsibility of an ER to treat patients in need? I totally get that they want patients to be routinely treated by doctors in their offices, but is it ethical to street a patient whose pain is a 10 and whose mental health is compromised?

The truth is we can see both perspectives, but we can't make any of the players in this situation see our perspective or agree with it. So what do we do? What could help? Should we look for a different doctor? Demand that our current doctor do something different? Show up at the ER anyway and request (demand?) treatment? It's easy to suggest finding a different doctor, but sometimes there is no better choice because our situation is that complicated. A heart to heart with your doctor might help, but what if it doesn't? Are there other good solutions I'm not thinking of? I'm at a loss here.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.