Living with Chronic Pain
How Is Chronic Pain Diagnosed?
Chronic pain is defined as any type of pain that persists after three to six months. The pain may come and go, or it may hurt all the time. Getting a proper diagnosis is an important part of developing the right treatment plan.
How is Chronic Pain Diagnosed?
In order to determine the level of your pain, your doctor will ask questions such as:
- When did your pain start?
- What does your pain feel like?
- Where is your pain located?
- What pain treatments have your tried?
- How is your pain impacting your activity and ability to function?
He or she will also ask how your pain affects your daily life, including your sleep habits and your mood. Be sure to tell your doctor which activities make the pain worse and what treatments (such as icing or heating) make it better. Tracking this information will help you work with your doctor to find appropriate treatments earlier in your pain journey.
How is the pain scale used?
A doctor may use a pain scale to determine how bad your pain is. This is done by asking you to describe your pain on a scale of one to ten with one being no pain and ten being the worst possible. Be sure to tell your doctor if your pain fluctuates throughout the day or night and what number you would rate your pain throughout the day. If certain things make your pain worse or better, be sure to label those activities with a pain number and tell your doctor.
What other test can be done to diagnose chronic pain?
In addition to conducting a pain scale test, your doctor may also conduct a MRI, a CT scan, an ultrasound or a x-ray to determine the cause of the pain, which will help your doctor properly diagnosis it. A doctor may give you a contrast liquid to help enhance the painful area in imaging from the above tests. Do not enter the MRI scanning room wearing anything with metal as this can cause serious injury.
A stimulation test that helps your doctor detect which nerves or muscles are affected by pain may also be done. These tests are carried out by performing muscle function or nerve conduction studies.