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Should I go to the emergency room for my chronic pain?

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Around 12% of emergency room (ER) visits happen because doctors’ offices aren’t open -- and patients need or want to be seen right away. Yet the ER isn’t well-equipped to manage long-lasting (chronic) pain. Your pain may be through the roof because of several things, including:

If you feel you must go to the ER during the COVID-19 outbreak, be sure to call ahead first. Always bring information about your condition to make your visit as short and useful as possible. Make a list of:

It’s a good idea to have this information written down ahead of time so it’s easily available during pain emergencies.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • A hard time coping with pain
  • All your health conditions
  • Any recent lab tests you've had
  • Medications you're taking
  • Treatments you want or need to avoid

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Using Telehealth to Care for Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Cleveland Clinic: “A Pain Management Physician on Adapting Practices During the Pandemic.”

American Physical Therapy Association: “Telehealth Modalities That PTs and PTAs Can Use During the Public Health Emergency.”

Rheumatologia Clinica : “Topical capsaicin for pain in osteoarthritis.”

Pain Research and Management: Effects of Physical-Agent Pain Relief Modalities for Fibromyalgia Patients,” “Chronic Pain in the Emergency Department.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep.”

Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips.”

Journal of Pain : “The Social Regulation of Pain.”

Clinical Journal of Pain: “Social Support and Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure Among Older Adults.”

Aging & Mental Health: “ Social Support and Cognitive Functioning as Resources for Elderly Persons with Chronic Arthritis Pain.”

National Center for Health Statistics: “Reasons for Emergency Room Use Among U.S. Adults

Aged 18–64: National Health Interview Survey, 2013 and 2014.”

Medscape: "Are Warnings Against NSAIDS in COVID-19 Warranted?"

Mayo Clinic: "Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on April 27, 2020

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Using Telehealth to Care for Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Cleveland Clinic: “A Pain Management Physician on Adapting Practices During the Pandemic.”

American Physical Therapy Association: “Telehealth Modalities That PTs and PTAs Can Use During the Public Health Emergency.”

Rheumatologia Clinica : “Topical capsaicin for pain in osteoarthritis.”

Pain Research and Management: Effects of Physical-Agent Pain Relief Modalities for Fibromyalgia Patients,” “Chronic Pain in the Emergency Department.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep.”

Sleep Foundation: “Healthy Sleep Tips.”

Journal of Pain : “The Social Regulation of Pain.”

Clinical Journal of Pain: “Social Support and Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure Among Older Adults.”

Aging & Mental Health: “ Social Support and Cognitive Functioning as Resources for Elderly Persons with Chronic Arthritis Pain.”

National Center for Health Statistics: “Reasons for Emergency Room Use Among U.S. Adults

Aged 18–64: National Health Interview Survey, 2013 and 2014.”

Medscape: "Are Warnings Against NSAIDS in COVID-19 Warranted?"

Mayo Clinic: "Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on April 27, 2020

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