Some types of pain, such as muscle injuries or sprains, are well-known to all of us and getting relief is easy. Finding the right treatment for chronic pain, however, is far more convoluted. The process begins with the patient translating their unique experience into words. Whether it’s excruciating pain or minor discomfort, finding a way to describe your experience to pain management professionals is vital so they can fully understand the situation and diagnose your condition correctly.
The Case Management Society defines pain as a “complex phenomenon causing an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience” that is experienced differently by each individual. Because tolerance to pain greatly varies from person to person, it can be challenging for doctors to determine how much pain the patient is actually experiencing. They must rely on the patient’s description to make decisions about treatment, especially when dealing with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis, when the root cause of pain can be more difficult to pinpoint.
At the Center for Pain Management, Dr. Chowdhury and his staff hear patients describe the pain that they’re experiencing on a daily basis. According to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, around 30 percent (700 million) Americans experience chronic pain, resulting in a loss of 700 million dollars due to lost days of work. Pain affects people at any age and can greatly vary in intensity, location, duration, and cause.
Thinking about your pain on a 0-10 scale can make it easier for you to describe its severity to your doctor. A good way to do this is to recall the worst pain that you’ve ever felt in your life and assign it a 10. You can then assign a number to your current pain in comparison to that pain.
However, this may not be enough to acurately describe your experience. The American Pain Association recommends using the LOCATES scale to describe pain to your health-care professional. With this methods, patients describe the Location of their pain; Other symptoms related to the pain, such as numbness, nausea, or weakness; the Character of the pain, whether it’s throbbing, dull, burning, or sharp; what factors Aggravate or alleviate the pain; the Timing or duration of the pain; if there is a certain Environment where the pain occurs; and the Severity of the pain on the 0-10 scale.
Even though chronic pain is very widespread and can affect anyone at any time, it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer with it all of your life. The Center for Pain Management is a free-standing interdisciplinary outpatient facility that has been specializing in acute and chronic pain for over 22 years. Dr. Chowdhury and his staff are known their cutting edge procedures and compassionate care to help patients live more comfortable lives. Every day, they work hard to fulfill their mission of contributing to a healthier, more productive, and happier community and a brighter and more optimistic future for all.
Visit www.cfpm.net or call 956-631-9041 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Remember the “locates” scale!
Location-Where is the pain?
Other symptoms-Are you feeling pain-related numbness, nausea, or weakness?
Character-Can you describe the character of the pain? Examples: throbbing, dull, burning, or sharp.
Aggravate/alleviate-Do any factors affect the pain for better or worse?
Timing-What is the duration of the pain, and when does it feel the worst?
Environment-Have you identified any situations when the pain occurs?
Severity-Put a number to the pain on a scale from 1-10.