Communicating About Pain

Woman holding prescription pill bottle and talking to healthcare provider.

You have a right to have your pain evaluated and treated as effectively as possible. Untreated pain can limit eating, sleeping, and activity. Tell your healthcare provider where and how much you hurt. It may not be possible to relieve all the pain. But your healthcare provider can help you reach a pain level you can live with.

Your role

Tell your healthcare provider about the pain and your health problems. Be sure to:

  • Mention all the medicines you take. This includes any you buy over-the-counter and any herbs, teas, or vitamins you take.

  • Mention any pain relief techniques you use, like massage or meditation.

  • Measure pain as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • If your healthcare provider asks you to, keep a diary of your pain, the treatments you are using and how well they work. You may also be asked to describe how strong your pain is on a scale of zero to 10. Zero is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine. Be prepared to do this for your healthcare provider.

  • Follow your treatment plan as directed by your healthcare provider. Tell your healthcare provider how your treatment is working.

As pain is reduced, you’ll feel better. Less pain means less stress on your body and mind.

Your healthcare provider’s role

Your healthcare provider will help you understand and manage pain. You will be told about your pain control options. These will most likely include medicines. Options like physical therapy and acupuncture may also help.

Note for family and friends

It may be hard to understand how your loved one feels. But the pain he or she has is real. You may not be able to stop the pain. You can help in other ways, though. Spend time with your loved one. This helps distract from the pain. And help him or her take medicines on time and in the correct amount.