What triggers my pain symptoms?Billion-Photos/Shutterstock
If your pain isn’t coming from an obvious source—a sore neck from a car accident, say, or broken leg from a skiing snafu—try pinpoint the trouble by keeping a pain journal, recommends Jeremy Allen, MD, medical director for American Family Care, Birmingham, Alabama, region. Record what you were doing and what was happening around the onset of pain. “Even things as simple as a shift in your diet, a reduction in the amount or quality of sleep you get, or amount of stress you’re under can impact your level of pain,” says Dr. Allen. Don’t wait to call a doc if you experience these pain symptoms.
What is my diagnosis?goodluz/Shutterstock
All you know is that you’re in pain and want relief. Gus Crothers, MD, medical director of clinical personnel for Grand Rounds, says hang on: Pain is a symptom, not a diagnosis. “It is important to know that your doctor has a good understanding of the underlying cause of your pain,” says Dr. Crothers. “Without a correct diagnosis, it is difficult to prescribe the best treatment.” (It’s a slippery slope when you try to diagnose yourself.) If you don’t have a clear diagnosis, you may want to get a second opinion before starting any pain meds.