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Why Words Matter When Discussing Pain With Your Doctor

by Dr. Rodney Aziz

· doctors,medical,health,pain,words

When people think about treatment for pain, they may envision a scenario where a doctor asks them to rate their pain on a numeric scale. After all, this experience is one that many have had. However, when it comes to discussing pain with doctors, using words can actually make a tremendous difference. If doctors can better understand the pain, they can then generally better treat it.

Offering Comparisons

One of the problems with a numeric scale is that a five, for example, is going to feel different to different people. Patients who can compare their current pain to another pain can help themselves to gain more perspective on the situation and to better articulate what they’re feeling. For example, some people might say that their hand hurts. Other people might say that their hand feels as though they have been touching a burning stove for several minutes. The latter description offers more information to the doctor.

Explaining Scenarios

Doctors can also get a better sense of the pain when patients explain how it affects them on a daily basis. For example, some people might feel pain in their chest only when they are exercising; others might get cramped legs when night starts to set in but never during the day. Pain is not always constant, and explaining to the doctor when and under what circumstances it happens can lead to a more accurate diagnosis and useful treatment plan.

Examining Possible Causes

Ultimately, people are sometimes surprised by what it is that is causing them pain. They may assume that other elements were at work only to discover that the root of the pain is something in their bodies. Still though, it’s important for doctors to know under what conditions the pain came into fruition. In other words, if the legs suddenly started to hurt after a long bike ride or the chest pain came into fruition shortly after a coughing fit, a doctor can get a better idea of why the pain might still exist by knowing this important information.

When individuals are in excruciating pain, the thought of having to explain too much to the doctors might seem overwhelming. However, they should try to keep in mind that more accurate information leads to a more accurate diagnosis. Even more milder cases of pain can be ameliorated by talking.

Dr. Rodney Aziz originally published this article on his website.

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