The Vault

For many doctors, the success of any pain treatment depends on how they are able to accurately treat the root cause of the pain. It is therefore important that you, the patient, is able to accurately and precisely describe the pain to your doctor. If you’re battling invisible pain such as fibromyalgia, CRPS (complex regions pain syndrome), RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), diabetic neuropathy, or chronic pain after cancer treatment, accurately describing the location, frequency, and depth of the discomfort can be quite a challenge. Spine Center of Texas lists down some key points that will help your doctor understand what, where, when, and how much pain you are feeling:

  • Timing – This is key to a proper diagnosis. Don’t assume that the doctor knows how long you’ve been experiencing the pain. You can spell it out by a answering such questions:
    • How long have you’ve been experiencing pain?
    • How frequently and how long does it last?
    • What ignites (flare) or lessens your pain and for how long?
  • Location – Where does it hurt? Doctors may instruct you to mark the area/s where your pain is concentrated. They may also ask you to note a difference between pain that is on the surface and pain that is under the surface.
  • How Bad is Your Pain – Many physicians use a simple 1 to 10 point pain scale. Simply think about where your pain level falls the majority of the time.
  • Pain “feeling” – The most common pain types include: (a) sharp stabbing pain, (b) extreme heat or burning sensation, (c) extreme cold, (d) throbbing, (e) “swollen,” (f) inflamed tissue, (g) sensitivity to contact / touching, (h) itching, (i) numbness, (j) tingling, and (k) pins and needles.

It will also be helpful for patients to have a pain journal so they can document a week-long pain cycle before they meet with their pain management, chiropractic, or alternative medicine team. They can jot down any treatments or actions that lessen or increase your discomfort. For example,  hot showers or cold weather makes the pain feel worse, but Epsom salt baths or exercise lessens the pain. By being prepared, you can assure that your time with the doctor can be better spent focusing on solutions that will help you return to the life you’ve been missing.

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