Most people across the country suffer frequently from an invisible pain, and when it comes to telling others about it, it can sometimes prove difficult to describe ‘ whether it’s headaches or trying to relieve shoulder pain. It’s important that you know as much about your pain as possible before heading to your GP, as this prevents repeat appointments and misdiagnosis. Tracking when the pain occurs, identifying triggers and learning how to describe the feeling can lead to a faster diagnosis ‘ but where do you begin?

Getting to know your pain
Pain is something that can’t be ignored, as it can have a profound impact on your lifestyle depending on the severity. It can be felt in a range of ways and be caused by a variety of factors. Because of the broad definition of pain, it’s important that you understand as much as possible about your own pain to help you describe it to others.

When it comes to levels of pain, there are two main areas which are understood by doctors. This is known as acute and chronic. Acute pain is short term and is often felt as a severe or sudden pain that eases with time. Opposite to this is chronic pain, which is persistent and can last for months ‘ this is a recognised condition.

If you’re trying to learn more about your pain, you need to find the root cause. Your pain typically falls under one of the following categories:

‘ Neuropathic pain (nerve-injury)

‘ Radicular pain (pain travels down the path of the nerve)

‘ Somatic pain (caused by stimulation of pain receptors on the surface of the body or in musculoskeletal tissues)

‘ Myofascial pain (a type of somatic pain, associated with muscle pain)

‘ Visceral pain (relating to the internal organs)

If you continue to follow future steps documented in this article, you’ll be able to communicate more efficiently with your doctor.

Knowing the trigger points
Sometimes when you’re trying to determine where your pain came from, you then learn more about what triggers it. Identifying triggers can help you avoid them in the future and learn how to deal with them. You might find that your pain is associated with the following:

‘ Anxiety and stress

‘ Disrupted sleep patterns

‘ Temperature change

‘ Inflammatory food

How painful is your pain?
Once you recognise your pain, you’ll be able to detect the triggering points. A basic pain level chart is usually a scale of 1 to 10 that ranges from no pain to moderate pain to the worst possible pain. You can find a detailed explanation of each stage of the scale here.

Monitoring your pain
Monitoring your pain is extremely important when it comes to your pain as this can allow you to identify different areas.

Thinking about tracking pain? Ultimately, you need to find something that works for you, There are apps out there, such as CatchMyPain which allows you to draw the location and intensity of your pain on a model, track happiness and fatigue along with other features. Or, you might decide to create your own diary in a notepad. For this idea, just remember to make note of:

‘ The date and time you feel the pain

‘ How long it lasted

‘ Location of the pain

‘ Intensity of pain

‘ Any potential triggers

‘ Any treatment you used

Is it treatable at home?
There could be some ways to treat your pain without the help of your doctor. Of course, if a pain persists, it is always best to seek medical advice.

Have you heard of the RICE method? This stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate and this technique works to keep swelling down.

As well as this, the likes of aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen could work. They work well to treat muscle pain and inflammation injuries such as sprains. Always read the instructions before administrating medication yourself though.

Available at the supermarket, some medication has side effects ‘ think gels and cream. These work by relieving the pain orally and are often used to treat muscle, tendon and joint pain.

Communicating properly
If you do book an appointment with your GP, you need to know what to say. This way, you don’t forget to mention a specific symptom and reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis. Show your doctor your pain tracker and have bullet points prepared that you can discuss ‘ this could be triggers that you’ve identified and any treatments that you’ve tried at home.

For anyone suffering from pain, you need to become familiar with it to know the solution. Follow our 6-step guide and try to find the best treatment for you and your needs.