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Harvard Commentaries
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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Using a Pain Diary


July 08, 2013

Low Back Pain
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Features
Using a Pain Diary
Using a Pain Diary
htmPainDiary
A valuable tool for those experiencing chronic pain.
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InteliHealth
2009-03-23
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InteliHealth Medical Content
2011-09-16

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Using a Pain Diary

 

A valuable tool for those experiencing chronic pain.
By Rhonda Graham
InteliHealth Staff Writer
You know you hurt, but finding a way to help your doctor diagnose the reason for your pain can be difficult. Sometimes, you can't find the right words, or you've forgotten exactly how long you've been experiencing the discomfort.
In many cases, by the time you schedule a doctor's visit, you've forgotten other important details about your pain. For instance, if the pain comes and goes, you may have forgotten the degree of the pain, whether or not the pain moves, or if it occurs in response to some action you perform.
Keeping a written record of your pain — sometimes referred to as a pain diary — can help lead to a more prompt diagnosis. Write down when you experience pain, describe how it feels and record any drugs you take. If writing is too painful, keep a small tape recorder on hand. You can have a relative or friend transcribe your comments if necessary.
This type of documentation may help your doctor determine the cause of your pain and the best initial treatment.
Describing your pain. Here are some terms the American Pain Foundation recommends that you use to help describe the uncomfortable feelings and sensations commonly called pain.
  • Aching, dull, sore, pressing, deep, gnawing
  • On the surface, tender, pinching, sharp
  • Burning, pins and needles, prickling, shooting, electric
  • Stabbing, pounding, throbbing, pulsing, crushing
  • Crampy, knotlike, stretching, tight
You may find these terms useful when filling out a pain diary, such as the one below. You can print the diary and use it as a record. It may be especially helpful to show the pain diary to your doctor and discuss your experiences with pain.
When did the pain begin?
When did the pain end?
Where did you hurt? (In one place, or did the pain move?)
What did the pain feel like?
What drugs, if any, did you take for the pain?
Did the drugs help?
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           

 

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