This is a collaborative post.
Being in pain is not fun; that’s something we can all agree on. For some of us, it’s an occasional nuisance, while for others, the experience of chronic pain can be a daily distress that makes life harder. One thing we all have in common is that, when we’re hurting, we look for ways to cope, whether that be in the form of medication or anything else, such as meditation.
However, as unpleasant as pain may be, it can be useful in a very important way. Taking note of your pain, and remembering as many details as you can about it, can be hugely influential in assisting with a range of health issues. So when you experience a twinge of a familiar pain, or wince when feeling an ache for the first time, stop and note down as much as you can about it. This could be of huge relevance in the future.
Where is the pain?
The location of your pain can be instrumental in working out whether it’s caused by an injury which will heal with rest, or an illness that requires deeper investigation. When you experience a flare of pain, the first thing to get clear in your mind is where you feel it. A jabbing pain in your side can be a pulled muscle or a misfiring organ. The difference can be a matter of a few inches, and being able to report it accurately to a doctor will help in diagnosing, and treating, whatever is causing you to suffer.
What type of pain do you have?
The nature of any pain you are experiencing will also have implications for any diagnosis. There is a clear and clinical difference between a constant, grinding pain and an acute stabbing discomfort. If what you are experiencing could more accurately be termed a nagging stiffness, then you may have arthritis and need the assistance of a chiropractor, while if the same joint is seeing a spike of pain when moved, you may have a soft tissue injury. The more information you can report, the better for eventual recovery.
How long have you been in pain?
One of the most important diagnostic criteria in the doctors’ playbook is time. If you’ve been plagued by the same pain for years, then it’s unlikely to be something that presents an acute threat to your future survival, although it should still certainly be checked out. If it’s a relatively new pain, then a doctor needs to know all you can tell them about it, including whether or not it is accompanied by other symptoms.
Is the pain your only issue?
As primary as it feels, sometimes the pain you are feeling is simply a secondary symptom of a larger issue. A headache can have myriad causes, from migraine to tension to lack of sleep, and can on occasion simply be a result of deprivation from caffeine or another substance your body has become used to. If you’re finding that a pain is becoming repetitive, then think on whether it’s isolated or if it comes with other symptoms. Frequent nausea, general tiredness or easy bruising can tell a doctor a lot, so take that pain as a starting point for further checks.
It’s never a good idea to ignore pain, even if we’re confident it’s nothing major. Looking for further advice from a doctor could allow you to experience better health in future, and could even be a life-saver.
I’d love to hear from you if you’re one of the many people who struggle with chronic pain. If you have any advice or tips please leave them in the comments. As always, you can reach out to me over on Twitter too.