One of the most helpful tools for your doctor and yourself during your appointments is keeping a pain diary and symptom tracker or log. This way you can pinpoint exactly the time and date of when an autoimmune disease flare-up occurred, monitor, what you were doing each time and have a better understanding of what sets you off or what looks to be caused by more general things such as weather or the time of day.
You can keep a diary in a variety of ways. I simply keep a notebook and fill in the following:
Time of Day:
Area of Pain:
How long has the pain/symptom lasted:
Describe the sensation: Sharp / Burning / Aching / Tingling / Cramping / Throbbing / Numbness / Shooting / Dull / Stiffness / Swelling / Other
It can be just a simple entry each time, or more lengthy when a few symptoms accompany each other. For example:
|Date: January 28, 2012
Area of Pain: Left Leg and Lower Back
Medicines Taken: Celebrex
How long has the pain/symptom lasted: So far it has been an hour
Describe the sensation: Started out like cramping, a constant dull feeling succeeds it. Now it is aching, and at times a sharper pain comes and goes.
Activity: I was watching tv in bed
Weather condition: well it was raining all day and I did go outside a few times and got wet. Now I’m in the bedroom we have the aircon on and I feel cold but if I turn it off I feel too hot
Other Notes: I can see a few “lumps” starting to form at the top of my left hip and in my left thigh, the area is red, tender and sensitive to touch.|
An even better way to do this, is to accompany these notes with a more visual way of explaining your symptoms. For example, I sometimes print a body chart like the one below, and make comments around it to better help explain what has happened: Mark with a colored marker the areas that are causing discomfort. Keeping a diary and log such as these will help show your doctor what’s been happening day to day and pinpoint what sort of medicine/exercise/lifestyle changes you’ll need to make as your condition progresses.
A great site to inspire your own Pain and Symptoms Diary is FreeMedicalForms.com
, here you can find a number of forms from diet and exercise logs to pain charts. Go to Newest additions and download your own free pain assessment sheet. There are a ton of other forms you might want to get a look at, so have a browse through the website. Hope this helps! Got any other tips for explaining your pain and symptoms to your doctor? Do you keep a file or log on your progress? Share your ideas in a comment below 🙂