08 Sep How Tracking Your Pain Can Help Us Better Treat You
September is National Pain Awareness Month in the U.S. Every year, we support the efforts of advocacy groups by educating patients about some of the lesser talked about aspects of pain treatment. In light of that, we would like to introduce you to the idea of tracking your pain on a daily basis.
As pain specialists, we rely heavily on what our patients tell us to figure out how to best treat them. If we are dealing with something like a slipped disc or arthritis, diagnosis and treatment is pretty straightforward. But what we observe in the office doesn’t tell us a lot about how you feel away from the office.
Letting Us Know How You Feel
We encourage patients to keep track of what they are experiencing in order to let us know how they feel. In honor of National Pain Awareness Month, the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) is offering a number of free, downloadable resources. One of those resources is a daily activity checklist for fibromyalgia patients.
Note that you don’t have to be a fibromyalgia patient to utilize this resource. It is equally effective for anyone experiencing chronic pain. The checklist features a vertical column listing activities ranging from driving to shopping and keeping up with job responsibilities. A horizontal row across the top offers five options for scoring each daily activity:
- Extra effort
- Some effort
- Easy to do.
This particular tool makes it easy for patients to keep track of how they feel on any given day. You could use it to track how your arthritis makes you feel. Track your back pain, your shoulder and neck pain, etc. The end result is a running record that helps us understand what you are going through. It also helps us better treat you.
Treatment and Lifestyle Modifications
Treating chronic pain is what we do here at Lone Star Pain Medicine. Still, we know that sometimes even the best treatments in the world don’t alleviate pain 100%. Our doctors often choose to suggest lifestyle modifications to go along with treatments. This is another area in which tracking your daily experiences can help considerably.
For example, you might be a chronic back pain patient who has a lot of difficulty sitting for more than an hour or so. That can be noted on your daily activity checklist. Armed with that knowledge, we can then ask questions to help us better understand how often you sit, where you sit, and how sitting translates into increased pain. We might then be able to offer a modification or two that would make sitting more comfortable.
We have found that combining proven treatments with lifestyle modifications can help reduce pain significantly. But in order to know what modifications to suggest, we really need to know how chronic pain is affecting your daily routine. The more information you can give us, the better.
Tracking Pain in the Moment
If the goal here is to provide your doctor with as much information as possible, it makes sense for you to track your pain in the moment. That explains why the ACPA created a checklist designed to be used on a daily basis. Tracking your pain every day really helps us understand what is going on.
In light of National Pain Awareness Month, we want you to know that the specialists here at Lone Star truly care about you and how you feel. Please come see us if you are experiencing any type of chronic pain. We want to help you feel better.