Describing your pain as fully as you can will help your doctors and nurses work out the best way of treating it.
Questions that might help
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Here are some questions that will help you to describe your pain:
Where is the pain?
Is it in one part of your body or in more than one place?
What is the pain like?
You could use any of the following words to describe your pain: aching, biting, blunt, burning, cold, comes and goes, constant, crushing, cutting, dragging, dull, excruciating, frightful, gnawing, hot, intense, nagging, nauseating, niggling, numb, penetrating, piercing, pins and needles, pricking, radiating, scratchy, sharp, shooting, smarting, sore, spreading, stabbing, stinging, tender, throbbing, tingling, tiring, unbearable.
How bad is your pain?
If you measured it on a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate it (where 0=no pain and 10=the worst pain you’ve ever had)?
Is the pain there all the time?
Does it come and go? Does it go if you sit still or get worse when you move? Is it worse at night? Does it keep you awake or wake you up?
Does anything make the pain better or worse?
Do you feel better or worse standing, sitting or lying down? Does a heat pad or ice pack help? Is it relieved by painkillers such as paracetamol? Do the painkillers stop the pain or just reduce it, and for how long? Can you distract yourself with activities such as reading, listening to music or watching TV?
How does the pain affect your daily life?
Does it stop you from bending or stretching as usual? Does it stop you from sitting for very long - for example, can you sit long enough to eat a meal? Does the pain stop you from concentrating or affect your sleep? Does it stop you from walking for short or long distances?
Don’t feel that you’re being a nuisance or making a fuss by talking about your pain. Your answers to these questions will help your doctor or nurse plan the best treatments for you.
It can help to keep a record of your pain. List how bad it is at different times of the day and note anything that makes it better or worse. This information can help you discuss your pain with the doctors or nurses looking after you. Some hospitals will give you a pain chart, or you can download this pain diary [PDF, 286 Kb]. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader software to view PDF files like this pain diary. You can download it for free from the Adobe website.