If you are a chronic pain sufferer, you might find some assistance with keeping a Chronic Pain Diary. This post will discuss what that is and how it can help you.
I’ve been reading a book titled, Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants, by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. This book challenged me to look at my pain differently. One of the author’s premises is that we in the Western world focus on how to get rid of pain, instead of accepting and living with it. Dr. Brand spent his life working with leprosy and diabetic patients, who lose the ability to feel pain.
While I respect the attitude that acceptance is a step toward peace of mind, I am still of the mind to take proactive steps toward lessening my pain. But the author did challenge me to be vigilant about my health, taking responsibility to be my best advocate. No one knows our body like we do, so I recommend you be your best advocate.
How To Be Your Own Advocate
I firmly believe in being proactive about my health. That means I take responsibility for managing my pain, among other things. I don’t depend on just my doctors to do everything for me. If you feel this way, then read on.
Being proactive means taking responsibility for my health, not just my pain. Involved in this is eating right, exercising, limiting activities and getting rest. It also means being careful about what, if any, medications I take to address the pain.
So you can be your own advocate by being aware of those details and acting on them. And one of the best ways to do that is to keep a Pain Diary.
Who Should Keep a Chronic Pain Diary?
I think anyone who has chronic pain should do so! If it is difficult for you to do it (writing or typing is painful), I hope you have a loved one to help you with this. Because chronic pain can affect us emotionally and mentally, I think it is helpful to track these experiences to find triggers and reasons for why we feel either worse or better. It will also help us see how pain can affect our outlook.
Why Keep a Diary?
Keeping a diary tracks your day.
Below are some topics that I include in my diary.
- Helps you to see what makes pain worse
- Helps you to see what makes pain less
- Keeps track of your activity type
- Keeps track of your medication
- Keeps track of your mental/emotional state
In other words, it makes you more aware of your body and gives you information to act accordingly. It might help you head off a flare up. It might help you see what worked before so you can do it again. It is also vital information for your physician!
Perhaps you have other categories for a diary? Please share them!
What Does a Pain Diary Look Like?
It can look anyway you want it to look. You can use the topics I listed above. Or, add or subtract for your purposes. I found several examples of pain diaries. I’ve copied a these two below.
For more examples just type in Pain Diary in your search engine. Or make your own.
American Chronic Pain Association also has pain logs. Click here to check out their app, which is free.
When You Might Use a Diary
I keep track with mine throughout the day. I use two formats; my day planner and a Google Docs spreadsheet. The day planner is always accessible, and then when I am working at my computer, I enter the information.
It is my hope to graph my results. I still have to figure out how to do that.
You will begin to see patterns which should help you adjust your activities accordingly. I have become aware how my pain gets worse as the day goes on. Hopefully I can figure out how to change my schedule to lessen the pain.
Some Triggers That Make Pain Worse
I have a list of situations and circumstances that may cause flareups. I am now more aware of what causes pain. Since my pain is in my right buttock, I now realize:
- Cold weather causes pain
- Too much sitting causes pain
- Wet weather causes pain
- Lying down too long causes pain
- Over doing activity causes pain
- No exercise causes pain
I’m sure there a many more. Please add to my lists in the comments. You might be helping a fellow pain sufferer!
Here’s an interesting video from TED about chronic pain. Not necessarily about a pain diary, but helpful in our suffering. Pain is it’s own disease according to this speaker. His compassion is apparent; I hope your doctor is like him.