Many doctors use a 0-to-10 pain scale. A 0 rating means you have nothing to discuss, 10 is off-the-charts, I-can't-stand-it agony. This can be a good starting point. But it has its limitations. One person's 8 can be another person's 4.
Using the LOCATES scale
We have a lot of words for pain. Use them with your doctor. Note the type of pain (burning, dull, sharp?) and the triggers (environment, activity). It's a lot to remember, and a pain diary is one solution. You can also use the LOCATES memory aid below, provided by the American Pain Foundation.
L: Location of the pain and whether it travels to other body parts.
O: Other associated symptoms such as nausea, numbness, or weakness.
C: Character of the pain, whether it's throbbing, sharp, dull, or burning.
A: Aggravating and alleviating factors. What makes the pain better or worse?
T: Timing of the pain, how long it lasts, is it constant or intermittent?
E: Environment where the pain occurs, for example, while working or at home.
S: Severity of the pain. Use a 0-to-10 pain scale from no pain to worst ever.