Open Accessibility Menu

How to Describe Your Pain to Your Doctor

  • Category: Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Fox Valley Orthopedics
How to Describe Your Pain to Your Doctor

Accurately Describing Your Pain

Whether you’ve got a minor injury or suffering from persistent pain—being able to properly describe the location and severity of your pain is essential when it comes to seeking treatment. The health experts at Fox Valley Orthopedics are here to provide some tips to help you better describe your pain and discomfort to help you get the treatment you need.

Pain Levels

When your doctor asks you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, it is essential for you not to give just a number as a response. This is because pain levels and tolerance may vary from person to person—what may feel like a 7 to you may be a 9 to someone else. When answering with a number, immediately follow up with context to better help your doctor to understand what you're experiencing. For example, you may want to say that your pain is a 6 and that you may need medication to help manage this pain.


When it comes to describing the type of pain you're experiencing, it can be difficult to find the right language to properly communicate the sensation. However, knowing different words you can use that all seem to fit your experience can better help your doctor to understand your condition.

Some commonly used words to describe pain include the following:

  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Cramping
  • Dull
  • Hot
  • Nauseating
  • Persistent
  • Pinching
  • Pulsing
  • Sharp
  • Shooting
  • Sore
  • Sporadic
  • Stabbing
  • Tender
  • Tingling
  • Throbbing

Location of Your Pain

Being able to describe the location of your pain is also very important when it comes to helping your doctor to understand what may be causing your condition. It may be helpful to point to the location of your pain when describing the sensations you're feeling. You should also try to be as specific as possible when describing the location of your pain, using directional adjectives like the following:

  • Lower
  • Upper
  • Under
  • Over
  • Left
  • Right
  • On
  • In
  • Inside

Orthopedic Care in Elgin, Geneva & Surrounding Areas

At Fox Valley Orthopedics, we can help you get back to a pain-free, comfortable life. If you have been dealing with aches and pains that have lasted for more than a week, don’t put off getting help another day. Call (630) 584-1400 today to schedule your appointment.