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How to Measure and Manage Pain From Injuries

How to Measure and Manage Pain From Injuries

Believe it or not, pain is useful information.

Pain motivates us to protect ourselves, make lifestyle changes, or seek help. Pain is also a normal response to tissue damage or injury. Pain can alert us to when something is amiss, especially after surgery or other treatments when the gradual or sudden return of pain could mean a hidden issue like bleeding or infection.

Sometimes, we feel pain even after our tissues heal. This can happen if our nervous systems become overly sensitive after an injury in an attempt to protect us. (It would be like an alarm system of a recently-burglarized house becoming so sensitive that it goes off even when a leaf blows against a window.) Even though there is no more acute damage, your nervous system is on “high alert” and creates pain signals in response to seemingly innocent triggers, such as walking, sitting at a desk, or feeling a little more stressed out than usual.

Of course, just because pain can be useful doesn’t mean it’s desirable—and if you’re suffering, you deserve relief. To help you heal after an injury, it’s important to pay attention to your pain and know how to talk about it with your doctor. Here are three ideas to get you started.

1. Learn How to Describe Your Pain

When talking to your doctor about pain, be descriptive. While your provider can’t make a diagnosis based on your words alone, your insights can help him or she pinpoint the underlying issue more quickly.

Common words people use to describe pain include:

  • Aching
  • Throbbing
  • Spasming
  • Sore
  • Burning
  • Dull
  • Stabbing
  • Radiating
  • Buzzing
  • Tingling
  • Grinding
  • Popping
  • Snapping

In addition to descriptive words, you can also use tools that help you monitor how intense your pain is. For instance, you can rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 (the Numeric Pain Rating Scale) or use the Visual Analog Scale.

When rating the intensity of your pain, ask yourself:

  • In the past 24 hours, what is the BEST my pain has been?
  • In the past 24 hours, what is the WORST my pain has been?
  • In the past 24 hours, how would I rate my pain overall?

This information helps your doctor understand your pain more clearly and determine whether your current treatment plan is working.

2. Keep a Pain Journal

We encourage patients to write down things they notice about their pain—including when it comes on, what makes it better or worse, if and how it changes throughout the day, what it feels like, and where it shows up in their body.

In addition to writing about pain itself, it is also helpful to write down other useful details, including sleep quality and stress levels. When you do this, over time you can start to notice important and often fixable patterns.

Some research even suggests that keeping a pain diary or pain journal can improve your mood, function, and pain level itself!

3. Consult With a Professional Pain Management Team

Pain management can be a highly effective strategy for confronting injury-related pain. The comprehensive services we offer at Integrated Pain Solutions are minimally invasive and always involve thoughtful planning, evaluation, and modifications to maximize your results.

Struggling With Pain After a Recent Injury?

Pain management isn’t just for chronic degenerative conditions. Our Columbus and Springfield pain doctors help people recover from neck, shoulder, back, leg, and foot pain that develop after common injuries. Don’t get stuck with long-term problems after a short-term injury. Contact Integrated Pain Solutions today at 614-383-6450 to schedule your first appointment.