How to Use a Pain Diary « Prev    Next »

How to Use a Pain Diary

Pain is a subjective experience and individuals describe their pain differently. By keeping a pain diary you can learn how to characterize and even manage your pain. In the diary, you record details of the pain you experience with various activities, providing useful information for both you and your health care provider.

In addition to keeping track of activities that elicit pain, you should describe the location(s) of your pain, rate its intensity, record your response to specific treatments, and keep track of medications taken and their side effects. By recording how you feel from day to day, you will start to notice patterns, discovering which activities ‘trigger’ flare-ups and which treatment(s) works best for you.

The following pain descriptions are important to track in a pain diary:

  • Pain Location: Where is your pain? Is it localized to one area or generalized? Does it feel superficial or deep and penetrating? Does it travel or radiate? Do you have ongoing pain in areas other than the vulva?
  • Pain Quality: What does the pain feel like? Women with vulvodynia commonly use the following words to describe their pain:
HotBurningScalding

Searing

Sharp

Cutting

LaceratingStabbingTight

Stretching

Sore

Pinching

ShootingThrobbingTender

Knife-like

Raw

Prickling

  • Pain Intensity: How severe is your pain? How would you rate your pain on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 indicates no pain and 10 indicates severe pain?
No Pain Moderate Severe Pain

0 5 10
  • Pain Pattern, Duration & Frequency: Is your pain constant or intermittent? Does an episode start slowly or suddenly? Does it increase with certain activities?
  • Moderating Factors: Which treatments or activities help to relieve your pain?
  • Associated Symptoms: Is your usual pain or pain “flares” accompanied by other symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, weakness or numbness?

A vulvar pain diary is available for download.

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