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The "Hows and Whys" of Using a Pain Diary

Anyone with chronic pain has good days and bad days. They all know that sometimes a bad day can be triggered by changes in weather, diet, activity, and the like.  That's why a pain diary can be a very important tool in the management of a chronic pain condition.  It doesn't cost much money to use this tool, and anyone who is able to read and write can make use of it.  Alternatively, caregivers can keep pain diaries for those in their care.

By keeping track of day to day life, chronic pain patients can identify the relationship between painful flare-ups and potential causes of those flare-ups.  By identifying these patterns, a person can learn how to predict problems in advance, and and how to best manage the situation . Additionally, this information can also be shared with health care providers during medical visits.

What should be recorded in a pain diary?  The following elements are key:

  • Time and date
  • Recent activities, weather patterns, foods, and possible pain triggers
  • Any changes in  the patient's medical condition
  • Medication changes
  • Pain status (location, duration, intensity)
  • What pain medication or technique was used to alleviate the pain? How well did it work--or not?
  • Did the pain effect your emotional or psychological status?  How so?
It's not necessary to make a notation every time a pain episode occurs--what is important is to make regular entries, perhaps two or three times per day, on a regular basis.

Here is a video that might help get that pain diary started, if you have not done so already--



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