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How to describe pain

Pain is a very personal experience. It canít be tested or measured in the same way that doctors can test your blood or measure your blood pressure. It can be hard to explain how bad your pain is, or to describe it exactly. But it is important to try because the severity, type and duration of pain can provide important clues to what is causing the pain.

There are some assessment tools that can help to describe how much pain you are in, what helps or makes it worse, and whether you are experiencing any side effects from pain relief medication Ė for example, if you are taking an opioid, you may experience constipation which may be very uncomfortable or even painful.

If you have been in pain for some time, you may find it helpful to complete a pain diary before you see your doctor Ė it can help you to sound more objective and give your doctor a better view of what has been happening with your pain.

The sort of information your doctor will find helpful would be provided by your answers to the questions in this pain checklist.

In the majority of straightforward cases, these tools wonít prove necessary but they might be useful if your back pain is persistent and/or you find it difficult to get your story across to your doctor.

Pain diary