Living with Chronic Pain

How to Explain Your Pain to the Doctor? Every Doctor Uses a Pain Scale


Every individual needs to thoroughly describe his or her pain to their doctor. Doing so will likely improve the diagnosis, speed, accuracy, and time to treatment. There are numerous factors play a vital role in a proper diagnosis.

How long have you had this pain?

The first question that a physician asks is for how long have you had this pain? Timing is a key factor for a quality diagnosis. An individual should never assume that the doctor knows for how long they have been experiencing this pain, instead be very clear to state the number of days, months or years they have been experiencing the symptoms. Duration, frequency, and severity of the pain will provide the doctor with valuable information critical to a correct diagnosis.

Where does it hurt?

Doctors need an exact location of where you are feeling the pain. When communicating the location of the pain, be sure to include as much detail as possible – a good example would be, "the pain starts in my lower back and shoots down my buttocks and into my right leg all the way down to the foot".

Maintain a written account of your pain

It is best to log your pain over a period of time, even prior to seeing your physician or a health expert. Important information to include when meeting with any member of your pain management team (e.g. pain specialist, primary care physician, chiropractor, orthopedic surgeon, etc.) includes: your mood, activity level, sleeping habits, and what treatments or medications have increased or decrease your score on the pain scale.

Having this information at your fingertips saves lengthy questions by the doctor and ensures that your time with him is focused on finding the right treatment plan for your condition. Also, this written data helps to provide your doctor up-to-date information and documentation that can be used to author more advanced treatment options for severe pain.

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