Describing your pain to your doctor seems to be a surprisingly difficult task. Each of us experiences our pain differently, making it highly subjective—and that makes it a challenge for a doctor to evaluate.
Many doctors use a 0-to-10 pain scale. A 0 rating means you have no pain, 10 is worst pain that you can imagine, I-can't-stand-it agony. This can be a good starting point. But it has its limitations. One person's 8 can be another person's 4.
We have a lot of words for pain and you should use all of them. Note the type of pain (burning, dull, sharp?) and the triggers (environment, activity). It's a lot to remember, and a pain diary is one solution.
The American Pain Foundation provides a very useful method in communicating the pain that you feel called the LOCATES scale.
Location of the pain and whether it travels to other body parts.
Other associated symptoms such as nausea, numbness, or weakness.
Character of the pain, whether it's throbbing, sharp, dull, or burning.
Aggravating and alleviating factors. What makes the pain better or worse?
Timing of the pain, how long it lasts, is it constant or intermittent?
Environment where the pain occurs, for example, while working or at home.
Severity of the pain. Use a 0-to-10 pain scale from no pain to worst ever.
It's important to accurately describe your pain to your doctor. Minimizing or exaggerating it will not get you the help that you need and the bottom line is to be taken seriously.