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Steven P. Stanos, DO

Steven P. Stanos, DO currently serves as Executive Medical Director of Rehabilitation and Performance Medicine, Swedish Pain Services at the Swedish Health System in Seattle, Washington. Aside from directing pain management services for the hospital system, he also leads Swedish's pain rehabilitation center, Functional Restoration, an integral part of the pain medicine continuum of care. In addition to his work with Swedish Health System, he is active with committees work at Providence St. Joseph Health related to the system integration of pain management including primary and specialty care. Prior to joining Swedish and Providence, he served as medical director of the Center for Pain Management at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Northwestern University Medical School from 2002-2014, and served as an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and program-co chair of the multidisciplinary pain fellowship.

Dr. Stanos is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain medicine by the American Board of Pain Medicine and by the American Board of Anesthesia.

Dr. Stanos is a Past President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and serves on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Pain Medicine. He served as a panel member on the Service Delivery and Reimbursement work group for the National Pain Strategy, an invited consultant to the CDC for the CDC Opioid Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, and as a work group member for Healthy People 2020 and Healthy People 2030. He is active with the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has served as the co- chair of education for the Pain and Neuromuscular Council.

Dr. Stanos's work also includes ongoing educational initiatives for primary care, pain medicine, and physical medicine specialists around the United States and abroad. Dr. Stanos has published numerous scientific articles and book chapters related to pain management. He has been involved in the development and publication of treatment guidelines related to rehabilitation approaches for chronic pain and low back pain conditions. He also serves on the editorial board for the journal Pain Medicine and as a reviewer for other pain and rehabilitation journals.

A Mayday Foundation Advocacy fellow in 2013, Dr. Stanos's advocacy has continued to focus on increasing awareness and access for inter-disciplinary biopsychosocially-based pain care for patients suffering with chronic pain. In 2014, the University of Washington Department of Pain Medicine awarded Dr. Stanos with the John J. Bonica, MD lecture. He has appeared on CNN, National Public Radio, Fox News, regional print, and television news covering various topics related to pain medicine and pain rehabilitation.

Full Bio
Serious Woman Having Consultation With Male Doctor

Explaining Pain

Ask the Expert


I want to talk to my primary care physician about my pain and fatigue but whenever I try, I become emotional and embarrassed. How can I discuss my symptoms so he'll better understand how I feel?


Before we address anything else, a gentle reminder: You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Your primary care physician has seen it all—you can't say anything he/she hasn't heard. It's his or her job to care for you.

That said, it's understandable to get flustered. Emotions are natural, and living with the symptoms of chronic pain can be difficult—and can bring on strong emotions.

Add to that the perception some women have of feeling misunderstood by their doctors and it's easy to see why it may be hard for you to articulate how you feel. In fact, according to a 2009 survey commissioned by HealthyWomen, nearly half (46%) of the women surveyed with chronic pain believe that men are taken more seriously when they visit health care providers about chronic pain.

Be prepared

Unfortunately, time is limited, so you need to make the most of each doctor visit; that means arriving prepared

Start preparing today by keeping a daily symptom log. By tracking your pain, fatigue and other symptoms, you may be able to spot triggers and patterns to discuss. Participating actively in the development of your treatment program shows your physician how serious you are. Don't expect to review the log day by day, but use it as a conversation starter.

With just a few minutes for an appointment, it's easy to feel rushed. Arriving with your symptom log and questions in hand makes it harder to forget details your physician will find useful.

It's in the details

Those details are key to achieving meaningful communication with your physician. While your physician may empathize with your emotions, it's hard for him to treat those feelings. Be specific. Saying you always feel more pain before your period or that your fatigue is typically worse mid-afternoon provides more tangible, actionable evidence of your condition.

Effectively communicate your pain and other symptoms by using specific, descriptive language. Factual, symptom-related words that describe your pain—like shooting, stabbing, throbbing, widespread or aching—are more helpful to your physician than you might think. Is the pain widespread throughout your body? Are there specific locations in your body that feel tender to the touch? If you're not sure what kinds of words to use, look to sites like the National Fibromyalgia Association or here at HealthyWomen for guidance.

Day by day

Offer some insight into the day-to-day impact of your symptoms. Your physician probably knows your life is harder. Does he know you're so tired in the evening that you've stopped taking nightly walks? That you feel unable to take a family vacation with lots of outdoor activity? That you're taking more time off work lately because of fatigue?

Use as many details as you can to describe how fibromyalgia symptoms have changed your life. Paint a picture your physician can clearly see, and together you'll find ways to manage your symptoms and replenish the energy and endurance you need to have a full, rewarding life in spite of fibromyalgia.

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