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Describing your pain as fully as you can will help your doctors and nurses work out the best way of treating it.
Here are some questions that will help you to describe your pain:
Is it in one part of your body or in more than one place?
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.
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)?
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|.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2011
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