Your spine is home to a variety of tissues, tendons, ligaments and vertebrae, so pinpointing exactly what’s going on in your back when pain develops can be difficult. Spinal imaging tests can help identify some conditions, but before it reaches that stage, your doctor will try to get a good idea of what’s going on by conducting a physical exam and asking about your symptoms.
Accurately describing your symptoms to your spine specialist may be harder than you think, especially if you’re not dealing with a flare-up at your appointment. That’s why it’s important to think about how you’ll describe your symptoms to your doctor in the moment when pain is ongoing. And the best way to do that is to try to answer the four questions that start with a “W.”
Describing Your Pain
If you can describe your pain by answering these four questions, you’ll be in a good position to help your doctor understand your pain.
Where – Pinpointing where pain is located is key. You can literally point to the area, but is also help to share how pain radiates around your body if it’s occurring in more than one location. Although symptoms don’t always develop in the location of the injury, this gives your specialist a good starting point in the diagnostic process.
When – When your pain develops is another important factor in diagnosing your condition. Is pain worse in the morning, at night, when you’re sitting in your office chair or after activity?
What – Explaining what types of activities make pain worse or better will help your doctor understand which areas of your spine are active or inactive when pain sets in. Let us know what makes pain worse or better, including how you treat the discomfort at home.
Why – Finally, why do you believe your symptoms developed in the first place? Did you fall off a ladder, or were you lifting something heavy? Or does back pain seem to come and go in waves without any acute reasoning? Let your doctor know why your back may be in pain so they can understand the mechanisms that may have led to injury.
If you can prepare to answer all of these questions, we’re confident that you’ll be helping your doctor get to the bottom of your spine injury. And if you want to have your back examined and treated by one of the best experts in the area, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.