How to Describe Pain to My Doctor

Many people have a hard time describing pain. Before you head to your appointment, take some time to think about answers to these questions the doctor or nurse may ask you:

  • Where does it hurt?
  • When did the pain start? Does it come and go?
  • What does it feel like? Is the pain sharp, dull, or burning? Would you use some other word to describe it?
  • Do you have other symptoms?
  • When do you feel the pain? In the morning? In the evening? After eating?
  • Is there anything you do that makes the pain feel better or worse? For example, does using a heating pad or ice pack help? Does changing your position from lying down to sitting up make it better?
  • What medicines, including over-the-counter medications and non-medicine therapies have you tried, and what was their effect?

Learn more about pain and how to discuss it with your medical team on the NIA website.

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