How to Rank your Pain
Ranking the severity of pain can be very difficult, especially when trying to explain it to a doctor. Here are some helpful hints you can use.
1) Consider factors such as: intensity, location, duration of severe versus average pain, and frequency of severity. For example, if your pain is terribly severe 24 hours a day and involves your entire body, and the following week it is still terribly severe, but only involves half of your body, then it is fifty percent better. Likewise, if it still involves your entire body, but the terribly severe pain is now only present one half of the time, it is also fifty per cent better. Links: Piedmont Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
2) If you do not feel comfortable using percentages, try communicating your pain with numbers. Use a 0 – 10 scale, with zero meaning no pain and ten meaning unbearable. You may prefer to use a color scale, where red represents terrible pain and sky blue represents no pain.
3) Do not confuse the word “better” with “cured”. Better means improved, and cured means it’s gone. Your pain does not have to be cured in order for it to be better.
4) When reporting the response of your pain to a treatment, first tell if you are better or not, and in what body areas. After the doctor understands the big picture, if it is still required, then you can describe all of the changes your pain went through since the last visit. Remember, your doctor is like everyone else. If you give too much information, the message may get lost.
5) Always describe your pain from the point of view of improvement first, and then follow up with what parts may be worse. A positive attitude not only helps you heal, but also helps your doctor try harder for you.
6) Be prepared. Take notes in advance for your visit so that you can get your most important one or two concerns addressed. Expecting too much from any single visit may mean that none of your concerns get proper attention.