What key question can you ask patients with chronic pain that may help lead you to a diagnosis?
Patients with chronic pain syndromes (such as chronic abdominal pain, chronic back pain, or chronic headaches) can present a real challenge. Often they have had exhaustive workups by specialists to no avail. A simple tactic that I often find productive is to ask such patients whether they have a history of traumatic abuse (sexual abuse or serious emotional or physical abuse). An affirmative answer may suggest somatoform disorder, stemming from the abuse.
- Hien Nguyen, MD