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Pain Diary: Why you Should Track Your Pain

April 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Research shows that keeping a pain diary is one of the most important things you can do to understand and treat your pain.  There are many reasons for this.

  • Pain affects each of us differently; keeping a pain diary allows you and your physician to understand your unique situation.
  • Keeping a pain diary leads to better communication with your physician, which will lead to improved care and outcomes.
  • A pain diary allows you to develop a better understanding of the mind/body strategies that can help you reduce pain and improve functioning.
  • By tracking your pain along with your medication use, you may find ways to use your medication more effectively.
  • Keeping a diary also may show that your pain is not always at a very high level.  When you are experiencing the worst pain, it is easy to think it is always like this.

The following Pain Diary is the one I use in my practice to develop an initial understanding of my patients pain experience.  In future posts, I will share the diaries I use to identify how mind/body factors interact and how to develop a plan to address them.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the Pain Diary.

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I recommend filling out the diary daily for two to three weeks. Try to use the diary throughout the day and fill it in each hour.  If you forget, you can go back and fill in the previous day’s diary but it is not going to be as accurate as when you fill it in each day.  Note that patterns are likely to emerge the longer you keep the diary.  Look at how the following affects your pain level.

  • Time of day.
  • Specific activities or situations.
  • Stress and other strong emotions.
  • Medication schedule.

We will discuss analyzing the Pain Diary in more detail in the Online Pain Management Class. During the class, we will look at strategies for addressing breakthrough pain, how to identify if stress is aggravating your pain, how to effectively communicate your concerns with your physician and how to design a pain management program that addresses your unique situation.

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