7 points to help you describe your pain to your doctor

7 points to help you describe your pain to your doctor

02 May, 2019


It can be surprisingly difficult to describe how pain feels. Each of us experiences our pain differently, making it highly subjective—and that makes it a challenge for a doctor to evaluate.

Using the Locates scale

We have a lot of words for pain. Use them with your doctor. Note the type of pain (burning, dull, sharp?) and the triggers (environment, activity). You can also use the LOCATES memory aid below, provided by the American Pain Foundation. It summarizes 7 points which must be described:

L: Location of the pain and whether it travels to other body parts.
O: Other associated symptoms such as nausea, numbness, or weakness.
C: Character of the pain, whether it's throbbing, sharp, dull, or burning.
A: Aggravating and alleviating factors. What makes the pain better or worse?
T: Timing of the pain, how long it lasts, is it constant or intermittent?
E: Environment where the pain occurs, for example, while working or at home.
S: Severity of the pain. Use a 0-to-10 pain scale from no pain to worst ever.

It's important to accurately express your pain to your doctor. Neither minimize it because you don't want to bother the doctor, nor exaggerate it because you're worried no one will take you seriously.

Categories >> Pain