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How Should I Describe My Pain To My Doctor?

  • Oct 16, 2018
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Pain Management
  • Comments Off

Learning how to communicate with your doctor on where your pain is, is key to getting the proper treatment.

We all know that pain comes in many different varieties. The particular type of sensation you are experiencing can be a valuable clue for the doctor trying to diagnose you. A chronic, dull ache may indicate something very different from a sudden, sharp sting. Of course, nobody else can feel what you’re feeling, so it’s important to find the right vocabulary to describe your experience as accurately as possible. Doctors have a number of assessment tools to help patients communicate their experience. In addition to reviewing these, you can prepare for your first appointment by asking yourself the following questions.

How badly does it hurt?

You’ll almost always be asked to describe the intensity of your symptoms, often on a scale from 0 to 10. In other cases, doctors may only ask you to choose from “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” It’s also helpful to talk about how your discomfort affects your daily life – have you had to limit or avoid any activities because of it? What kind of impact has it had on your mental state? All of this information will help communicate the severity of your situation.

How does it feel?

You’ll also need to know how to provide a qualitative description of your experience. Here are some common terms by patients and healthcare providers:

• Burning
• Shooting
• Stabbing
• Throbbing
• Numbness/Tingling
• Cramping
• Tightness/Squeezing

Where does it hurt?

This may seem like a very simple question, but you can be a lot more specific than just pointing to a particular body part. Think about whether the sensation is localized in one spot or spread out over a large area. You can also specify whether it seems to be more on the surface or “deeper.”

When does it hurt?

Sometimes, discomfort comes and goes at particular times of day. This is important information to share with your doctor. You should also let your doctor know whether your symptoms come suddenly or gradually, and how long they typically last.

What makes it better or worse?

This is often the most important question for obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Think about how certain activities, foods, or medications influence your symptoms. What have you already tried to improve them? Did it work? To really answer this question completely, it may be helpful to keep a journal of your symptoms as well as any other activities you think may be relevant.

Getting Help

Whatever you’re feeling the doctors at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are ready to hear what you have to say. You deserve the attention of a practitioner with the experience to get your pain under control. Contact one of the locations of the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers today to schedule your first appointment. With 15 locations around the Atlanta area, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers serves patients from Austell, GA as well as Canton, Carollton, Camp Creek, Conyers, Covington, Dallas, Dawsonville, Decatur, Douglasville, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, Piedmont and Roswell.

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