How to Best Describe Back Pain to Your Chiropractor
You’ve been suffering from chronic back pain for too long. It’s there when you wake up, at work, while you’re relaxing, and when you’re trying to fall asleep, interrupting your quality of life for the worse. You’re familiar with this pain at an intimate level, yet, when you go to your chiropractor, you have difficulty discussing exactly what’s bothering you! It can be frustrating for anyone seeking relief.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only person who has trouble putting your back pain into words. Describing your symptoms with precision is easy in theory, but many struggle to deliver the right information to accurately contextualize their situation to their chiropractor. At Advanced Spine and Posture, we see it all the time from our Las Vegas, NV back pain patients.
Describing pain accurately is the key to proper diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of your condition. It’s important to get it right. This is especially key for patients with “invisible pain” conditions, like fibromyalgia and neuropathy. That’s why initial patient consultation is one of the most important parts of the chiropractic process.
Having a productive conversation with your chiropractor about how back pain is affecting your life can unlock insight into the nature of the pain. There are five components to having that conversation:
- Pain location: Be clear and specific when it comes to talking about where on the body your pain occurs. “Back pain” could mean any part of your spine, from the topmost thoracic vertebrae, to the lowest lumbar region. If you can, point to the area of your low back or use landmark descriptions, such as “between my shoulder blades” or “right above my tailbone.” This is also a chance for your chiropractor to help you feel out areas of concern, to pinpoint the pain in more clinical terms.
- Pain severity: Pain symptoms are very subjective. What feels unbearable to one person may feel like a minor annoyance to another. Nevertheless, it’s helpful for your chiropractor to know where your level of pain falls most of the time. Most medical professionals use a 1-10 scale (with 1 being the lowest level of pain) to gain a better understanding of the condition. Make sure to denote pain levels with context: “it wakes me up at night” or “it hurts so bad I can’t stand straight.”
- Pain characteristics: Is it a sharp, stabbing pain? Or a consistent, dull ache? Itching, extreme cold, and numbness are also common sensations. A good idea is to compare your pain to analogous situations, such as “feels like someone is pressing on my back” or “I get a pins and needles sensation.”
- Pain frequency: Is the pain all the time, 24 hours a day? Or does it have occasional spikes, only to disappear a minute later? Again, this could be important for diagnosing and treating your condition. Keep a journal of when pain occurs and how long it lasts before visiting your chiropractor for best results, or be specific of the details as you talk about pain.
- Catalysts: Is your pain associated with, say, eating a particular food? Or maybe it’s tied to a specific motion? Keeping a “pain log” for some time before your chiropractic appointment may help you isolate exactly what’s related to the condition. It’s important not to draw your own conclusions, but make notes of related instances for your chiropractor to review.
Chronic back pain differs among every individual. Thankfully, it’s possible to discern your unique brand of pain with a little chiropractor Q&A. The experienced team at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV takes the time to have a conversation with you about your pain before any treatment is started. It’s part of our comprehensive Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach to patient wellness. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.