Monday, August 4, 2014

Using a Visual Analog Pain Scale

Get a Visual Pain Scale

Tracking your pain is a helpful diagnostic tool when dealing with repetitive stress injuries. A visual analog pain scale like this lets you bypass the cognitive level of your brain and give a truer representation of your pain. Print out a number of copies and start a file to track your pain level over time.

Track Your Problem Tasks
Keep a file on your pain near the work site for every problem task you have identified as a potential cause for your injury. Pull it out and record your pain every time you perform that task no matter how long it is for.

Date & Time Stamp
Note the date and the start time of your task.

Mark Your Starting Pain

Visual Pain Scale Note 3.  Chris Adams
Indicate your pain level on the colored bar of the chart. Go with your instinct. Just point and mark. The color bar helps bypass your higher brain functions and lets you respond with a truer understanding of your pain. Use an "S" or some other symbol to denote the starting pain level. 

What to do Now?
You now have all the information you need to track your pain over time and duration, as well as the tools needed to determine which tasks are the real culprits. 

If you break up your day into discrete tasks that is tasks that have a definitive start and finish, and track your pain over those tasks you will be able to identify which ones help, hurt, or do nothing.
If your pain decreases over the task it is probably helping your injury. Do it more often.

If it increases it is a candidate for a cause of your injury, especially if the pain increases dramatically. If it is only a slight increase it might just be the normal fatigue incurred as the day goes on. Try varying the time of day you perform this task to see if it really causes more pain.

Tracking the start and end time allows you to see what duration is causing harm. If you do the same task a number of times throughout the day, try varying the duration. You might be able to perform the task comfortably for 15 minutes, but a half hour might be overboard. Knowing this will help you plan your day to properly treat your injury while still getting your work done.

If you are getting treatment from a health care professional show them your file. This will give them a more thorough history of your problem. Many doctors or chiropractors will actually use a visual analog pain scale during your office visit to get a better understanding of your current pain. If they don't you can now educate them on its benefits.