Creating a Pain Dairy

It is critical for you to measure and track your pain so that you can effectively communicate with your doctor, your extended pain management team, and most importantly perhaps your loved ones and caregivers. 

A Pain Dairy is an important log of:

  1. Where you are experiencing pain on your body?
  2. How strong is the pain?
  3. How long does the pain last?
  4. How it is affecting you physically and mentally, i.e. how do you feel?
  5. What you were doing when it occurred (i.e. pain triggers)?
  6. What medications are you taking?  Are they helping - yes or no?
  7. Do you have other symptons in addition to the pain - loss of appetite, depression, the sweats, etc?

There are many sources with guides on how to describe pain (here is a guide to describe pain from the MacMillan Dictionary).  It is critical that you not only describe how the pain makes you feel, but it is important to describe THE PAIN, which will help your doctor diagnose and treat the problem.  Useful adjectives and descriptions include:

  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Cramps
  • Knots
  • Deep
  • On the Surface
  • Pulsing
  • Sharp
  • Shooting
  • Tender
  • Tight
  • Throbbing

Keeping a Pain Diary

So, where should I keep this information?

Depending on what kind of person you are and how you like to communicate, your pain diary can take a variety of formats.  Whichever method you choose, it should be something that is:

  1. Simple to use
  2. Easily updatable by you or your caregiver
  3. Easy to share with you doctors, your extended pain management team, and with your loved ones

Sample Pain Diaries:

  1. American Chronic Pain Association: The ACPA probably has one of the most well know pain logs or pain diaries available.  Click here to download their pain log.
  2. American Pain Foundation: Here is a good one from the American Pain Foundation which has a visual guide for pain on the body.
  3. American Cancer Society: Here is a simple one from the American Cancer Society.
  4. Peace Health: Many hospitals and health providers will have their own form or diary which you can use like the one from Peace Health Medical Group.