How to Explain Your Back Pain to Your Doctor

Seniors and Spinal Surgery

A big part of treating any type of chronic pain is how you describe it to your board-certified back doctor. Since pain is highly subjective, especially for conditions like fibromyalgia or non-specific low back pain, it’s important to explain it in a way that’s clear and accurate.

Frequency of Your Pain

Tell your doctor how often your pain occurs and how severe it is when it does. Frequency of pain also includes:

  • Times of day when the pain seems worse
  • When the pain first became noticeable
  • If the pain is consistent or intermittent

Location of Your Pain

Show your doctor where it hurts. Clarify the location of the pain by distinguishing between discomfort that’s felt on the surface and pain that’s internal. Your doctor may give you a chart of an outline of a body to help you mark pain locations.

Intensity of Your Pain

You’ll likely be asked to describe the intensity of your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Generally, pain is indicated as follows:

  • 0: No pain is felt.
  • 1-3: Your pain is sometimes disruptive, but otherwise manageable.
  • 4-6: Your pain is moderate, but has an impact on your daily life.
  • 7-10: Your pain is severe and often debilitating to the point where it substantially reduces your quality of life.

Type of Pain You’re Experiencing

Describe your type of pain in as much detail as possible. Feelings or sensations that may better indicate your type of pain include:

  • Sharp, stabbing sensations
  • Burning sensations
  • Throbbing, often includes swelling
  • Heightened sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Numbness and tingling

Consider keeping a daily journal to describe how you experience pain during different times of the day. Include details of what appeared to trigger it and what seemed to help relieve it. Such information can help your doctor identify patterns and fine-tune treatment recommendations.

When back pain begins to disrupt your daily routine and affect your quality of life, it’s time to see a Los Angeles spine surgeon. Call The Spine Institute Center today at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation with one of our experienced spine specialists who can diagnosis the source of your pain and review all possible treatment options for pain relief.