Pain is a common experience for millions of adults. Back and neck pain are two of the most frequently-expressed complaints in doctor’s offices across the country. Back pain is also one of the most prevalent reasons given for missing work. With all of this pain floating around, you’d think you would have no problem describing your unique experience to your doctor – until you hear those few words: “tell me about your pain.”
What does it mean to tell your doctor about your pain? And does your account of the sensations in your body matter when your medical record holds images and lab results that detail the mechanical or biological processes at work? Your account matters, yes. Because it does, we want to discuss how you can make the most of the conversation you have with your doctor about back or neck pain.
The Art of Storytelling
Your doctor needs to know how pain is affecting you and how you are experiencing it, even with data provided by imaging. The details of your story are important because they enable us to comprehend the degree of the problem at hand. The more we understand your pain, the more we can tailor a treatment plan to your needs.
What should be in your story?
Your pain experience provides us with details such as:
- How long you have experienced this pain.
- The frequency with which this pain occurs.
- How long pain lasts when it does occur.
- What triggers or worsens pain, and what alleviates it, if anything.
- The severity of pain on a scale of 1 to 10. A measurement of 6 describes the pain that is noticeable enough to interrupt daily activity.
- The nature of pain sensations. Descriptive words such as “burning,” “throbbing,” or “stabbing” are examples of how to describe the pain.
- The location of pain as it relates to the spine, and also as it relates to depth.
Typically, pain isn’t something that we like to talk about. If you’ve been living with chronic pain for months or years, you’ve probably become quite good at not talking about it. This needs to change. Back and neck pain tends to worsen if not treated, so let’s talk. Call our New York City orthopedics office at 212-606-1004.