November 12, 2016
How to Keep a Journal for Your Chronic Pain
Keeping a journal can help you manage your chronic pain and pinpoint your most successful treatment options. To get started, buy a notebook or download a convenient smartphone application and begin logging the key details.
Chronic pain is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms that can include burning, aching, or pulsing sensations in any part of the body. If you experience chronic pain from a medical condition or past injury, keeping a pain journal offers an easy way to highlight trends and track the effectiveness of treatments. Being able to describe these details accurately can drastically improve your chronic pain management with the help of medical professionals in Arkansas. The following information will explain the importance of journaling and offer tips for starting this helpful habit.
Reasons to Keep a Pain Journal
Having a pain journal can help you record key observations about your chronic pain over time. You might discover that it follows a pattern, such as acting up at the same time every day or getting worse after you complete certain activities. Keeping a pain journal helps you create an accurate account of your pain for your doctor to look over, which can then affect the type of treatment they recommend. With the help of a journal, an interventional pain management specialist can figure out whether your current treatment method is effective or if you should try an alternative. Instead of needing to mentally recall how often you have felt pain or how severe it was, you can refer to your journal for a detailed record and description.
Types of Pain Journals
You can use a notebook and pen to write about your chronic pain or use a smartphone application that is specially designed for tracking your symptoms. Because you likely carry your phone with you throughout the day, an app can be a convenient tool for recording pain. Some apps even give you the option to create reminders so you will not forget to add crucial information to your journal. Choosing between an app and a traditional journal will come down to your personal preference. Be sure to pick the option you are most comfortable with, as this will make you more likely to use it on a daily basis.
Information to Include in a Pain Journal
When keeping a pain journal, be sure to include the following details:
- Current date and time
- Severity of pain
- Type of pain, such as sharp, sudden pain or a dull ache
- Location of pain
- Duration of pain
- Possible pain causes and triggers, such as physical activity or certain movements
- Any additional symptoms
- Effects of current treatment
- Changes in treatment
- Changes in an underlying medical condition associated with chronic pain
- Lifestyle factors that can affect pain, such as your current diet and quality of sleep
- Emotional and psychological effects of pain, such as changes in mood
When to Write in a Pain Journal
Many people who are exploring chronic pain management can be hesitant to start a pain journal because they worry it will occupy too much of their time. However, you do not have to document every moment you experience pain for this practice to be worthwhile. You should simply make an effort to add information to your pain journal at specific times of the day. Establishing this routine can help you remember to write in your journal on a daily basis. Writing a few times a day also allows you to record what you are experiencing in more detail than if you only create a single entry for the same period.
If you are interested in chronic pain management in Arkansas, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 for help making an appointment with one of our supportive pain management experts.