How to Diagnose Pain, part 7

We continue our blog series on “Pain”. Submitted by guest author, Kevin Samuels, Outreach Coordinator, Flowers Health:

Diagnosing chronic pain is not easy, as there are no tools to quantify pain. Diagnosis often involves a series of tests and procedures, as well as a review of symptoms and medical history. A doctor will first ask questions about the symptoms and factors that trigger pain, such as:

— When did you first begin having pain?
— How do you describe your pain? (shooting, burning, cramping, stabbing, dull, or sharp?)
— Have you had an injury in the affected part?
— Does any activity relieve your pain or make it worse?
— Do you have a history of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety?
— Where do you rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10?

Medical tests may be ordered to identify the physical causes of pain. Some possible testing includes:

Blood Testing: Blood tests are useful in the diagnosis of infections and inflammation. People with infection/inflammatory disorder have high levels of white blood cells, and also of inflammatory substances such as the C-reactive protein (CRP). A blood test can also help determine if there is the presence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), gout, or cancer. If RA is present, the blood analysis will show positive results for specific proteins called rheumatoid factors.

Urine Testing: Urinalysis is most commonly used to check if a patient has gout. Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by high blood levels of uric acid. A doctor may also order a urine test for a patient who uses a narcotic painkiller to relieve chronic pain.

Testing Spinal and Brain Fluid: A doctor inserts a needle into the lower back and collects a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear liquid that protects the brain and spinal cord. A CSF analysis helps diagnose disorders of the central nervous system and some types of cancer.

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Exams: will check the patient’s posture and joint mobility as well as looking for swellings in the affected area. It may also be used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes the test may involve a detailed spine examination to identify spinal deformities and gait abnormalities. A neurological examination assesses muscle strength, reaction to touch, balance, and sensation. Moreover, it may also test memory, alertness, mood, and behavior.

JD Miller

About JD Miller

John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. Phone: (781) 378-2164 Email: [email protected] Website:

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