Keeping a pain journal is an effective way for people to manage chronic pain. It may take a few entries before you get into the habit of writing in your journal on a regular basis, but keeping a pain journal can help you track your pain and how you’re feeling. A pain journal can help you and your doctor learn how to better manage your pain. Here are some simple tips for keeping a pain journal.
What to Include in Your Pain Journal
Your pain journal is specific to you and your pain. It’s important to be honest and thoughtful when you’re writing in your pain journal. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Rate your pain throughout the day on a scale of 1 to 10. While the frequency you rate your pain is up to you, it’s often recommended to record your pain rating in the morning, at lunchtime, in the afternoon and again at bedtime.
- Describe your pain. Does your pain feel like burning or tingling? Does your pain pulsate or throb? Do you ache in your muscles or joints? When you describe your pain with these types of words, you and your doctor will be able to track your pain better.
- Track your pain. For many people, their chronic pain changes throughout the day. Take note of the times of day when your pain level increases or decreases.
- Monitor what you’re doing when your pain increases or changes. Do you hurt more when you first wake up or after sitting for a while? Were you exercising? Were you running errands or doing chores? Write down what you were doing when you noticed your pain level increase.
- Consider your environment. Many people with chronic pain notice a change in their pain level when the weather changes. Does cold or hot weather worsen your pain? Do you notice any changes when it’s going to rain?
- Think about your food. Certain foods and drinks may worsen chronic pain. Foods such as fast food, sugary food and processed meats have the potential to increase your pain level. Write down everything you eat and drink throughout the day and when you notice changes in your pain.
- Write down how you feel emotionally. Your emotions and feelings play a role in chronic pain symptoms. Do you feel stressed out at certain times of day? What makes you feel worried or anxious? Write down your emotions throughout the day, and try adding relaxation techniques whenever you feel overwhelmed.
The Benefits of Keeping a Pain Journal
Keeping a pain journal helps you and your doctor track your pain and your treatment plan. Sometimes, your treatment plan may need to be tweaked for best results. A pain journal helps you and your doctor know exactly what works, what doesn’t and how your pain changes throughout the day.
In addition, keeping a pain journal may show you areas that you can improve at home. For example, if you’re feeling really stressed out during certain activities, you can practice breathing and relaxation techniques. After doing your relaxation routine, you can re-evaluate your pain level. As you’re able to better understand your chronic pain, you’ll be able to address it throughout the day as needed, so you can enjoy more of your day.