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How do I describe my pain?

September 8, 2022

Accurately and thoroughly describing your pain can help your health care provider give you better treatment. As a patient, you are encouraged to express any concerns, questions, or inquiries you may have about your pain. But, if you don’t know how to describe your pain this can become difficult. This article is intended to give you a basic overview of the types of pain you may feel and the vocabulary surrounding it.

You can expect to hear a few of these questions during your visit.

  • What kind of pain do you feel? (more on this below)
  • Where do you feel pain?
  • How often do you feel pain?
  • How severe is the pain?

What kind of Pain do you feel?

What is a heavy pain? Or, what does a tender pain feel like? You’ll know best what type of pain you are feeling so try your hardest to be as specific as possible with this question. Make sure to visit our post on types of pain for more info on describing your pain to your doctor.

Types of Pain you may feel:

  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Fearful
  • Gnawing
  • Heavy
  • Hot or burning
  • Sharp
  • Shooting
  • Sickening
  • Splitting
  • Stabbing
  • Punishing or cruel
  • Tender
  • Throbbing
  • Tiring or exhausting

Where do you feel pain?

Tell your doctor everywhere you are experiencing pain. Try to avoid statements like “the pain is in my leg” and provide more detail. Using a finger and pointing while saying “I have a sharp pain just above my left knee” is more helpful. Then, if applicable to your case, provide further detail if the pain moved to other parts of your body.

How ften do you feel pain?

Is this pain chronic or acute? If the pain has lasted longer than 12 weeks then it is considered chronic. But while you are at your visit, you will have opportunities to describe exactly how long the pain has been persisting.

How severe is your pain?

Is the pain tolerable and not very noticeable or does it make everyday activities difficult? Does it come and go with specific movements or persist throughout the day? Does it distract you from work, conversations, and everyday activities?

Take the next step

If you are experiencing pain, we are here to help. With 3 decades of experience in helping our patients manage their pain, we can work toward a solution with you. Our mission is to provide the best care for every patient, every day.

You can reach out to the Napa Pain Institute at (707) 252-9660 or view our Contact Page.

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