Prepare for Your Appointment: Know How to Describe Your Pain

If you look up the word “pain,” Merriam-Webster will tell you that it is, “Usually localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder.” The word also has a lot of synonyms – sore, throbbing, ache, twinge, discomfort, tenderness… the list goes on and on with descriptors that exemplify specific maladies. It probably comes as no surprise that there are many different types of pain, and while they’re all direct messages, trying to tell you that something is wrong – being able to describe your symptoms using the closest correlating word can help your doctor identify and treat the underlying cause, so you can be pain-free, twinge-free, and comfortable in your own body as soon as possible.

When you’re suffering from a painful episode, it can be truly hard to be mindful in your body. You want to escape the pain; not lean into it to discover the exact term you should use to describe it. It’s only natural to want to avoid discomfort. However, to find relief more quickly, it is worth it to take a few moments and pay attention to that pain so you can properly describe it at your appointment. Grab a piece of paper, and write down what you feel to the best of your abilities. Here are a few descriptive words and subsets of pain, so you can compare it to your own:

Acute: Acute pain often comes about suddenly, and may be the result of injury. For example, a sprained ankle or pain caused by a fractured rib would be considered acute.

Chronic: Chronic pain is longer-term pain, which may not be completely treatable. However, this pain can often be managed with proper care. Some conditions that contribute to chronic pain are osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy. It’s important to come up with a pain management plan with your doctor, as this type of pain can lead to mental anguish and depression. Chronic pain also includes reoccurring pain, in which a similar pain, due to the same condition, waxes and wanes depending upon your current state.

After determining if your pain falls into the acute or chronic categories, you can concentrate on the way you’re experiencing it. You may get “pins and needles” if you have nerve pain, or a sharp pain when you try to move if you have a slipped disk. Here are some other descriptive words that can help your doctor make a diagnosis:









The sensations you feel may come and go, or happen when you move a certain way or perform a specific task. It might hurt to the touch, or remain consistent regardless of pressure. When you are able to find the right words to categorize your pain, your doctor can diagnose you faster, and you can begin your journey towards relief.

It’s so important to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you’re experiencing pain, something is wrong. In most cases, you should call Premier Pain & Spine to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. However, if you’re experiencing extreme pain, don’t hesitate to visit the emergency room.

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