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How to Describe Pain Symptoms to Your Doctor

How to Describe Pain Symptoms to Your Doctor

If you suffer from neck or back pain, you understand that it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. With so many different symptoms, underlying causes and contributing factors, there’s a wide range of treatments that may or may not work for many of the same conditions and will specifically depend on the patient.

The most important first step toward receiving a diagnosis and finding a treatment that is right for you starts with being able to describe your painful symptoms to your doctor. As a pain sufferer, you probably understand how difficult describing your pain may be.

Keep reading to find out more about the various ways you can work with your doctor and let them know more specifics about your pain.

How Long Have You Been Experiencing Your Pain Or Symptoms?

This is one of the most common questions a doctor will ask upon the first consultation. Reason being, timing plays a key role in receiving a proper diagnosis. A doctor cannot automatically understand whether you’ve had the pain for a week, month, year or longer. Not only is it important to vocalize how long the pain has been happening, but also how frequently it occurs and how long it lasts, as well as what makes it worse or better.


Where Does It Hurt?

When asking this questions, your doctor may ask you to mark the areas where your pain is concentrated on a printed out piece of paper or on yourself. They may also ask you to note a difference between any types of pain you may be experiencing. It’s important to be clear during this process to be specific and give as much detail as possible.

How Bad is Your Pain?

In most cases, when a doctor or medical professional asks about the pain you are experiencing, they’ll ask you to give them a number based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least amount of pain and 10 being excruciating.

If you don’t experience constant pain, pick an average number of where you fall most of the time, or give examples of when or why it may fall at different places on the scale. Be sure to note if you experience extreme fluctuations and anything that may be associated with those.


Describe your pain.

Pain comes in many shapes and forms. In order to give your doctor the most accurate understanding of what you are experiencing, you’ll need to describe the sensations of what you are feeling and when.

The most common ways to describe painful symptoms include: sharp, stabbing, burning sensation, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, throbbing, hurts to touch or itching.

What Can I Do to Make this Process Easier?

One of the best ways to help your doctor understand your painful condition and works towards an accurate diagnosis is to keep a journal that documents all of the above. When the pain strikes or if you have a particularly bad or notable bout of pain, writing it down before you forget can help you ensure you can relay this type of information to your doctor. Also, be sure to keep notes on whether any treatments or at-home remedies lessen your discomfort.

If you go into a doctor’s appointment prepared with all this information, your time with the doctor can be better spent focusing on next steps and a treatment plan, rather than diving into a lengthy discovery process that can further delay finding relief.

How Q Spine Institute Can Help

At Q Spine Institute, we make it our top priority to give our patients the best care possible and return their quality of life to them. If you are feeling any kind of neck or back pain and want a medical evaluation, contact the Q Spine team at (732) 660-8942 or request a free phone consultation today.


Topics: Back Pain Neck Pain Spine Condition Spine Surgery