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Get Results When Describing Back Pain To Your Orthopedist

Elderly woman holding back in pain

One of the most challenging things for a patient can be explaining their experience with pain to their orthopedist. Discerning the cause of a patient’s discomfort requires an understanding of how that patient is experiencing pain. Unfortunately, describing pain can be more difficult than it sounds, especially describing it in a way that is meaningful to both the patient and the orthopedist alike. To help those experiencing back pain to communicate it effectively with their physician, we put together the following guide.

Start With The Location Of The Pain

The first and most important element of describing your pain should be explaining where you are feeling it. This isn’t about pinpointing a location, but instead about explaining its source, severity, and behavior. It can often be difficult to determine exactly where the pain originates, but what you can do is describe how you are experiencing it. Does it throb, pulse, or is it a spike of pain? Does it occur strictly at one point, or does it cover an area? Is it generalized or does it have a specific location it radiates out from? These descriptions can help a physician pinpoint where the pain is actually coming by dissecting how you’re feeling it. Sometimes the worst pain isn’t experienced at the same point as the concern that causes it.

How Much Of Your Pain Is Coming From Which Region?

Breaking down the pain experience by region is an important part of determining the source of the pain. If you are experiencing more pain in your backside or thigh it’s likely nerve pain or leg pain. Pain that is more intense higher up in the lower back can be caused by issues near the sacroiliac joint. Describing your pain in percentages can be an easy way to share this information with your physician.

How Intense Is Your Pain?

The pain’s intensity is often scaled on a range of 0-10, with 0 describing an absence of pain and 10 describing excruciating, torturous pain. If given a Visual Analog Scale chart to fill out, be certain to fill out where you are experiencing pain at the time it is filled out. Past experiences with pain can be described to your physician verbally. Be sure to be complete when you fill out the chart, marking pain free areas with 0, and any pained area with an appropriate number.

Are You Experiencing Any Weakness?

Nerve pain is often accompanied by weakness in the muscles and can tell the orthopedist more about your condition. When describing weakness be sure to include whether it comes and goes, is constant, and whether it has gotten worse over time. You should also include the duration of time you’ve experienced the weakness and anything notable that makes it worse.

These are just a few steps to describing your condition effectively. You can consult with your orthopedist to learn more or call Dr. Luc Tuerlings at Space Coast Orthopedics for help. They work with patients throughout the Merrit Island, FL area to address orthopedic pain and find effective methods of treatment.

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