Do you suffer from chronic pain?
If so, you’re not alone. An estimated one in five Americans do too, with more than one in three experiencing high-impact pain.
Pain that has been present for more than three months can interfere with the ability to:
- perform chores
- and many things you may love (say playing with the kids or grandkids).
Yet, while chronic pain is a tricky beast, there are important ways to lessen its footprint; to reduce your discomfort and gain control of your life.
Understanding what improves or worsens your pain and the nuances of your experiences may help to provide a path to better health. A chronic pain diary can act as a cornerstone piece in this process.
What is a Chronic Pain Diary
Think of chronic pain diary as a ledger for your pain.
This is the place for you to
- log or track your symptoms
- estimate your severity on a scale
- describe your associated feelings
- document your behavior reactions
- and a place to record other relevant information.
This simple process provides valuable insights that may improve your understanding and experience of pain, and even shorten the journey to recovery.
How Can a Chronic Pain Journal Help?
Chronic pain is tough. This condition is regularly accompanied by a forgetful, scattered brain, mental illness and fatigue, each make taking action more difficult. The former also makes it difficult to accurately recall what factors play a role in pain.
A chronic pain journal has three important roles to play:
- Accuracy of reporting
- Facilitates a deeper understanding of your pain, improving your chances of finding what works and what doesn’t.
- potential to shorten your path to relief by implementing useful techniques and eliminating harmful interventions.
The benefits of journaling include, but are not limited to:
- Understanding triggers, patterns, or changes in chronic pain episodes
- Understanding both benefits and side effects of therapeutic interventions
- Improving patient-practitioner communication i.e. by sharing your journal with your health professional they can gain insight into your experiences, including what seems to help or hinder
- Finding a path to relief that works well for you
What is usually tracked in a chronic pain journal?
What kind of information should you record?
Entries could include, but are not limited to:
- Date and time
- Location of the pain
- Type of pain i.e. sharp, dull, aching
- Severity of pain i.e. how would you rate it out of 10
- Duration of pain
- Any activity or other factor that may have caused a flare-up
- Any exercise or practice that may have provided relief, including medication and non-medicinal interventions like mindfulness and breathwork.
- Lifestyle factors that may have played a role i.e. quality of sleep, exercise, diet
- State of mind i.e. mood, stress levels, the state of co-exist mental illness like anxiety or depression
Be sure to keep this journal in an easy to locate place like your bedside table. And bring it to your doctor and/or therapist to help you discuss your treatment.
How can XRHealth and a chronic pain diary combine to enhance pain relief?
At XRHealth, we are dedicated to supporting, educating, and treating our patients with highly compassionate, expert care.
As part of your care, we aim to get to the nuts and bolts of your condition, how it affects you, and how, together, we can help you find relief as quickly as possible. A chronic pain diary helps us to do this.
Healing is a process. This is no different for people who suffer from chronic pain. Though it is, oftentimes, more complex.
The psychological, neurological, physical — the mind, nerve, and body factors — that are known to alter the experience of chronic pain are complicated. Unpacking the things that trigger or alleviate pain takes time and investigation.
But you, alone, live in your body. You are the one that feels the discomfort, that knows just how bad it is, that can shed light on when, where, and why it hurts. You are the key to getting better.
A chronic pain diary, then, acts as the key to your inner world.
By carefully tracking the information discussed above, in combination with other points that your therapist recommends, we can move closer to relief, faster. Because we know what to target.
Tracking your pain and symptoms helps us keep a close eye on your treatment and progress.
Together, a clinician and you can explore the following questions:
- Is one approach working? Can we increase its intensity or frequency?
- Or does it need to be changed?
- How great is the relief you are experiencing with care?
- How long does any relief last?
- Are you improving over time?
- Do you experience any discomfort post-care?
- To what level?
- Do you have any concerns?
- Do we need to tweak your care?
- Does journaling raise any thoughts, ideas, comments you’d like to share with your therapist?
The Chronic Pain Journal Takeaway
While tracking your pain might seem simple, it really can provide incredibly helpful information that is difficult to access through other means.
- aid your understanding
- enhance your care
- deliver better results
- and put you back in the driver’s seat of your life.
All of these are wonderful reasons to begin, and maintain, a chronic pain diary, ledger, or workbook.