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How To Describe Your Pain To Healthcare Provider

In recognition of Pain Awareness for the month of September, we looked at what pain is, types of pain and resources for pain management and more.  Now let us look at ways one can describe pain to healthcare providers.
Pain is individual and is based on one’s own personal feelings and experience.  Therefore, it can be difficult for healthcare providers to determine the source of the pain and properly treat.  However, there are ways that you can make your explanation more thorough and universal to healthcare providers which can assist them in diagnosing you.  According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), one of the ways to do this is to keep a diary of your pain, with as many details as possible.  The American Chronic Pain association provides many forms and charts you can utilize to make this possible (http://www.theacpa.org/pain-management-tools/communication-tools/). Here is a short list of questions to keep in mind when keeping track of your pain:

  • Where is the pain?
  • How often do you feel the pain?Online Classes
  • How long does the pain last?
  • How does your pain limit your activity?
  • What makes the pain better or worse?

It may be helpful to rate your pain on a scale of one to 10 when you are tracking your pain.  This can help show possible patterns to your pain.  There are also defining words you can use to describe how your pain feels.  These can be of importance to your healthcare provider.  Here is a brief list from the NIH:

  • Shooting
  • Sharp
  • Tender
  • Throbbing
  • hot/burning
  • Cramping
  • Heavy

Click here to see the complete list of descriptive words (https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicpain/conditioninfo/describe).  Describing pain to your healthcare provider can be challenging, but it can be made simpler by following some of these tips.

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