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Created: January 2001
Diane Manhattan

You are here: IC Network > Patient Handbook > Pain Management - Measuring your pain

Pain Management and IC

Measuring your Pain

If you ask many IC patients what their pain level is on a scale of 1 to 10, they'll often say 10. But, for a physician, that doesn't really say much. It can be much more effective to describe what you can or cannot do at this time. And, some doctors do better if you focus on functionality rather than emotional descriptions of pain. Here's a scale that some IC patients have found helpful.

Level 1: I feel no symptoms of IC. I can do anything.

Level 2: I feel slight discomfort, possibly the beginning of a flare. But it doesn't stop me from my life. I can drive, work, shop, etc.

Level 3: I feel mild symptoms of IC. I can still do anything but I'll be looking for restrooms more frequently.

Level 4: I feel moderate symptoms of IC. I have a moderate need to urinate, moderate level of pain. It's starting to limit my activities and I make the decision to head home and rest. Driving and sitting is uncomfortable.

Level 5: I'm hurting now, biting my lip and/or holding my abdomen. At this point, I'm more comfortable laying in bed now with a heating pad. Walking is more painful now as my IC throbs. It has stopped me for the moment from doing my daily functions, I am utilizing my pain management tool kit fully at this point.

Level 6: I have a constant gnawing deep severe pelvic pain, constant feeling to urinate, body fatique. I'm using all of my pain strategies here: self help, medication, relaxation & tens.

Level 7: I'm in bed in severe pain. I'm using all of my pain tool kit but I may need help at this point. I'm considering calling my doctor or going to emergency room.

Level 8: I need help. The pain isn't responding to my strategies. I am calling my medical care provider and/or on the way to the emergency room.

Level 9-10: I'm in the hospital.

Pain Diary Instructions

When keeping a pain diary, you should be recording your progress two or three times a week, if not daily. Pain diaries are instrumental in determining pain management strategies as well as tracking your progress.

Pain diaries are simple to do. Write first the date that you are currently recording. Then indicate the time of the recording, your pain level, what medication you are taking and the dosage (if applicable), the description of your pain and any notes that you feel might be beneficial. (see sample below)

Pain Diary

Day Time Pain Level Medication Pain Description Notes
01/01/01 7:00am 5 1Ĺ percocet burning .
01/01/01 9:00am 3 . slight
pain medication is working but not to full effect
01/01/01 11:00am 3 . slight
01/01/01 11:30am 4 1 percocet moderate burning I don't need full dose because pain is manageable but I don't want it to get out of control

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself that can help you keep an effective pain diary.

  1. In what area is the pain located? urethra, vaginal area, bladder, right under the belly button, scrotum, penis etc..
  2. Is the pain, aching, burning, dull, pounding, pressure, sharp, stabbing, throbbing or tingling?
  3. Was there noticeable pain when you woke up? Did the pain proceed to get worse during the course of day? What do you think might of triggered your pain symptoms? (i.e., food, exercise, sex)
  4. Have you used any pain techniques to help reduce the pain? (ie., pain medications, heating pad, ice, relaxation)
  5. What medications are you taking for pain control? Are they prescription or OTC? Did they help in relieving your pain (never, sometimes, always)
  6. Did you have trouble sleeping because of the pain? Do you have trouble eating because of the pain?

Printable Pain Diary

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