Why It's Important to Keep a Pain Diary

Pain patterns are hard to recall; a diary captures details your doctor needs.
Your doctor needs detailed data to plot out the causes and triggers of your chronic pain and build a treatment plan. When she asks how you have been in the past month or two, you need to be ready to provide specifics.

"My back is bothering me worse than ever" won't help your doctor. One solution pain doctors recommend is keeping a pain diary, a consistent record of your pain experience.

Your doctor will be looking for triggers, stresses, and patterns. The more detailed you can be about the factors that seem to influence your pain, the better.

What to Keep in Your Pain Diary
An accurate record of your pain will help your doctor give you the best treatment  Read more
  • Rate your pain on the pain scale at different times of the day.
  • Indicate whether your pain interrupts daily activities like walking, working, or sleeping.
  • Note what meds you took, when you took them, how much relief they provided, and for how long.
  • Describe other treatments you may have tried (yoga, herbal remedies, nonprescription drugs), and whether they provided any relief.
  • Note any side effects of pain medicine.
  • Keep track of anything that makes the pain improve (better when you are sitting instead of standing, better after a hot shower, etc.)
Consistency is the key. If you make notes in your diary on a regular basis (several times a week), you'll have a complete picture of your pain experience and patterns will emerge.

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Last Updated: May 09, 2008

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