An effective treatment and management of pain starts with an extensive assessment and diagnosis. Its purpose is to determine whether further evaluation is needed to be able to understand the pain. Because a clear assessment and diagnosis allows your doctor to identify the pain, its impact, or if there’s other medical problems involved, it’ll be easier to develop an effective and most applicable treatment plan for a certain type of pain.
Since no one can really tell how much pain you’re experiencing, a thorough assessment and documentation is necessary to evaluate your case. Important information such as the severity and quality of pain, its duration and location, certain factors that cause it to be better or worse, psychiatric or medical problems, and previous medical history should all be documented. The following may also be required to diagnose pain:
- Complete physical exam
- Other medical conditions and prior treatments (medicines or other conventional treatments that has been tried in the past)
- Some information about your lifestyle
The above information may all be necessary to diagnose what’s causing the pain and the possible benefits of treatment. Because pain is subjective, that is, an intense pain for one person may not be too painful to the other in spite of having the same condition, it’s important for your doctor to have a clear understanding of pain so as to provide the most effective pain management.
While symptoms and medical history are all important in assessing pain, your doctor may still prescribe other diagnostic procedures such as the following to make sure that he or she has the most accurate diagnosis of your case and that there’s no underlying conditions involved:
- Laboratory tests – In this procedure, a sample of your blood or urine may be evaluated to check if an infection or other related condition is causing the pain.
- X ray – This procedure is used to see if there’s damage, injury, or fracture in the joints or bones.
- EMG/NCV – Electromyography in combination with Nerve Conduction Velocity are performed to see if underlying condition that affects nerves or muscles is involved. These procedures help your doctor to locate the damage on your muscles or nerves by recording the electrical activities in your muscle tissues, and the speed of your nerves’ electrical signals to your brain.
- MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan is a procedure that shows images of your body’s structures and tissues. It can give your doctor the most accurate evaluation of the structures in your body and detects if inflammation or other medical condition is causing your pain.
- Diagnostic Nerve Blocks – This procedure is used not just to determine the primary source of pain, but to provide short-term pain relief as well.
Telling your doctor everything related to your condition can greatly help you
There are different exams and procedures to diagnose pain. A mental health assessment may also be needed as anxiety, depression, stress, or insomnia is also causing chronic pain. Your doctor may also ask you to perform few physical activities to see if your pain problem affects your ability to feel and your reflexes. These exams can greatly help to determine if neurological or nerve problem is involved.
One must understand that pain can’t easily be assessed and measured. Only you or the person experiencing chronic pain can appropriately describe it. Therefore, maintaining an open communication with your healthcare professional is the most important to adequately diagnose and treat chronic pain.