Sunday, January 26, 2014

ABC's of Pain

One morning at age fourteen, the first morning of my life with autoimmune arthritis, I woke up and just hurt. My chest, in particular. Later, at the Emergency Room, I told them such. When they asked, "how" it hurt, I replied, "a lot." When they asked me to describe my pain, I tearfully replied, "I don't know, it just hurts." The nurse snipped back that she didn't "know what 'just hurts' means." In my naivety (and excruciating pain), I lacked the words to describe my experience. Now, after years of living with pain, I've learned a larger descriptive lexicon, but have always remembered how silenced I was without it. Part of the goal of this blog is to share some of that hard-won knowledge with others.

In the past, we've talked about how to efficiently track one's pain and it's contributing factors, as well as how to communicate one's pain effectively to others. Today, we're going to explore something that's absolutely vital on the road towards getting one's pain diagnosed and treated: using the right vocabulary. Unfortunately for fourteen year old me, "hurting" just isn't a very descriptive way to explain a painful sensation. Agony doesn't promote much word recall, so what I needed then was a pain glossary-- a list of words to help describe the gamut of possible pain sensations. The McGill Pain Questionnaire does a good job of providing some qualitative words to describe pain.

For a few more, check out my ABC's of Pain:

A is for Aching
B is for Burning
C is for Crushing
D is for Drilling
E is for Electric
F is for Freezing
G is for Gnawing
H is for Heavy
I is for Itchy
J is for Jarring
K is for Knotted
L is for Loose
M is for Migratory
N is for Numb
O is for Occasional
P is for Pressure
Q is for Quivering
R is for Radiating
S is for Stinging
T is for Throbbing
U is for Uncomfortable
V is for Variable
W is for Wrenching
X is for eXplosive
Y is for Yielding
Z is for Zapping

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