Assessment

Pain is often caused by more than one health problem. No matter what the cause, all pain should be treated. The more information you can provide your healthcare provider about your pain, the better the treatment plan will be. It is important to remember that all pain is a warning sign that something is going on in the body that needs attention. Seek the attention of a healthcare professional if you have new pain that has not been treated in the past, have very little energy and/or trouble concentrating or your pain is affecting your relationships. If you have pain that was treated but has not disappeared or you are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep because of pain, you should also seek treatment.

Your health care professional will need to evaluate your pain. This may be accomplished through a physical exam. Your healthcare professional will update your medical history (past illnesses, overall health, and family history), medications and recent complaints. A neurological exam may be done to determine whether or not your pain is related to nerve problems. He or she may also check for symptoms of depression which often occur in conjunction with chronic pain.

Questions your healthcare provider may ask you include:

  • Where does it hurt?
  • Does the pain move from place to place?
  • When does it occur?
  • How long does it last?
  • Does the pain come and go?
  • Have you had this pain before?
  • Does the pain keep you from doing things you want to do?
  • Does the pain disrupt your sleep?
  • Has your mood changed because of this pain?
  • Are relationships being affected by the pain?
  • What makes the pain better or worse?
  • Describe your pain. Descriptive words for pain include pulsing, throbbing, shooting, radiating, tingling, itching, stinging, aching, numbing, squeezing, burning.

It is difficult to describe your pain accurately. Your healthcare provider may ask you to assess your pain using a pain scale. This simple tool provided below may help you to qualify, measure or monitor your pain.

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Print Pain Scale

It may be helpful to keep a daily pain diary or journal. This is valuable information and should be shared with your healthcare provider.

Print the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging Daily Pain Diary

At your physical examination, your healthcare provider may order tests such as:

  • Blood tests
  • CT Scan (computed tomography) or CAT Scan (computed axial tomography), 
  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • EMG (electroneuromyography)

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