Whether you’ve been fighting chronic pain or are dealing with new aches, your pain can be hard to describe. Yet, your doctor needs details about your pain experience to treat you effectively. One way to help you talk about pain accurately is to keep a pain journal.
Keeping notes about your pain can help identify its causes and effects. If you take medication, journaling lets you track how well it’s working and pinpoint troublesome side effects. To start journaling, designate set times to write. This ensures you’ll have a consistent record and prevents you from writing about every twinge of pain throughout the day. Focusing too much on your symptoms can drag you down, which is the last thing you need.
- Use vivid language to describe the pain. Does it ache, burn, throb, tingle or cramp? Is it a stabbing, shooting, splitting or dull pain? Detail where you feel pain and whether it moves around. Compare its intensity to other painful experiences such as childbirth or kidney stones.
- Note how often you feel pain, how long it lasts and what seems to trigger it. Mention any factors that may affect pain, such as the time of day, weather, stress, food or drink.
- Explain how pain impacts daily activities and mood. Does it interfere with sleep, exercise, doing chores or socializing? Does it make you feel hopeless, angry, depressed, anxious or stressed?
- Track the effectiveness of pain remedies. Does taking a warm shower, standing up or walking around help? How well is your medication working and do you have side effects? Include notes on supplements you take or therapies you try, such as acupuncture, massage