“How to Better Describe Your Pain to a Doctor”

How to Better Describe Your Pain to a Doctor”

Do you ever wonder if your doctor questions the reality of you pain? Is he convinced that your pain is real? Describing pain to your doctor accurately is one of the trickiest things to describe to a doctor. He really needs to know your level and type of pain. Your doctor really must understand that this is specific to you and that this pain is yours and specific to you. However, because pain is always experienced differently and each individual has a different tolerance to pain, it can be difficult to communicate your pain and communicate your experience with pain clearly to ensure that you are understood. But for many chronic diseases, especially lupus, a more accurate description of pain can help your doctor better diagnose and treat a problem. Unfortunately, there can be obstacles to receiving immediate and the best pain relief.

Finding the Right Care For many patients, their primary care doctors, often referred to as internists) can be an excellent place to receive help. But , sometimes, depending on your pain, it might be necessary to seek out a specialist. A specialist himself, Dr. B. Eliot Cole notes that most primary care doctors “treat all pain as acute pain, no matter how long it goes on,” despite the fact that chronic pain is different because it lasts longer than the 30 days defined as the acute pain window. Dr. Cole explains further why it is important for patients to fight for the right kink of care; which may mean seeking out the services of a pain specialist. He tells Health magazine that “the longer you go on with untreated pain, the more perpetuated the pain becomes and the more difficult it will be to treat.”  How to Talk About Your Pain Part of making sure you are receiving the optimal treatment for your chronic pain comes from finding the most accurate method for describing the pain you feel to your doctor. The longer a person suffers from an illness, the more educated he or she becomes about personal pain and medical terminology. But by learning to define things clearly at an early stage will hopefully help the problem to be addressed much quicker. Typically, physicians will employ a scale from 0 to 10. But the obvious problem with this method is that it can’t account for the differences in pain tolerance that individuals will have. For one person a broken bone might rank at a 4 while another patient says that the same injury feels more like 10 or even 11. To describe your pain more precisely, the American Pain Association recommends its acronym LOCATES. It works like this: L: Location of the pain and whether it travels to other body parts and how it feels there O: Other associated symptoms such as nausea, numbness or weakness C: Character of the pain (whether it is throbbing, sharp, dull or burning) A: Aggravating and alleviating factors (things that make the pain better or worse) T: Timing of the pain (how long it lasts and whether it is constant or intermittent) E: Environment where the pain occurs, i.e.: at work or at home S: Severity of the pain on a 0-10 scale from no pain to the worst ever These questions can help you be more specific and focused in communicating your pain to your physician. Identifying these feelings for yourself, may also lead you to more useful research on your symptoms and condition. In addition, many patients also bring a close family member or friend with them to appointments. These people are around you when you experience and complain about symptoms and may be able to recall details or explain what you have said in another way that adds to the doctor’s complete picture of the pain. With these tips for finding the best care and communicating your feelings of pain more effectively, you can be better on your way to receiving the treatment you need to hopefully recover and effectively manage your pain.


Jessica Socheski is a freelance writer who is passionate about access to comprehensive primary care. You can find her on Twitter.




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