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Column Key Points in Communicating Your Pain to Your Doctor


It is essential to accurately describe the characteristics of your pain during the medical interview to be able to receive the most appropriate treatment.

To that end, what is the actual best way to describe your pain?

Where is the pain site located?

・If you have symptoms other than back pain, please tell us about them as well.
・Please also inform us if the pain has gradually moved away from the initial onset site.

When did the pain start and what triggered it?

・When did the pain start, what triggered it, did it start suddenly or gradually, etc.?
・How has the pain evolved since its onset?

The intensity and characteristics of the pain

・What is the current pain level, with 10 being the strongest pain imaginable and 0 being absolutely no pain?
・The level of pain is easier to understand if you use descriptions such as “strong/weak, dull/sharp, heavy/light, burning/throbbing, etc.”
・What actions, posture, environment, etc., aggravate the pain and what actions alleviate it?
For example, does it hurt when you walk, or does it hurt more at night, and does it get better when massaging or stretching, etc.
・If you feel that the pain has been gradually getting stronger since its onset, please communicate that information too.
・Tell us if the pain is continuous throughout the day, transient, periodic or intermittent, etc.
・Describe the symptoms you feel in as much detail as possible, as this is the key to determining if the pain is related to muscle pain, nerve pain, joint pain, etc.

Current treatments and previous surgeries you have undergone

・If you have undergone surgery, please tell us in detail to the best of your knowledge.
・If you are currently undergoing treatment or rehabilitation, please tell us about past pain that has been eased as well as residual pain.
・If you have multiple sites associated with pain, please tell us in as much detail as possible what kind of response, or lack of response, you had to each site after treatment.

The impact on your daily life

・Please tell us in detail how the pain is interfering with your daily life.
(e.g., pain makes it difficult to sleep, to work or do housework, loss of appetite, etc.)
・Please tell us if you have any symptoms other than pain, such as sweating, fever, nausea, etc.

Pain is subjective and sensory, so it is difficult information to convey to others.

We ask for your cooperation in providing the above details to help the doctor in charge visualize the condition as accurately as possible, as this will provide material for a smoother and more accurate diagnosis and treatment decision.

Our clinic aims to provide medical examinations and treatment that will best help patients with their pain, difficulty, and anxiety

ILC International Lumbago Clinic Tokyo

Written by Tadaaki Minowa, Clinic Director