documenting and measuring your pain ankylosing spondylitis

Documenting and Measuring Your Pain

When you first start having stiffness and pain in your back or joints, you want to take something to ease the pain and go on with your life. Unfortunately, as the pain becomes more and more regular, you realize something more serious may be happening. Eventually you decide you should call the doctor to make an appointment. Before your scheduled appointment you should document and measure your pain. This documentation will help your doctor better understand your pain and symptoms which help make a proper diagnosis.

A thorough and detailed symptom diary will be invaluable to your doctor. It will help your doctor recognize the type of arthritis you may have. There are over 100 types of arthritis (Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis to name a few). The information you document will help you receive the proper treatment, because what works for one form of arthritis doesn’t necessarily work for the others.

Here are some things you may want to consider when documenting and measuring your pain:

  • Where does the pain begin? Does it start in the joint itself and radiate out? Alternatively, does the pain begin in the muscles surrounding the joint without affecting the joint itself?
  • Do you have only one joint with pain or is more than one joint affected?
  • Is the pain associated with stiffness or is there simply pain?
  • Is the pain worse in the morning and then it “works itself out” as the day progresses?
  • How severe is the pain? Can you give it a rating between 1 and 10, with 10 being the worst pain you have ever experienced?
  • Your doctor will also ask you if your pain interferes with your quality of life and to what degree. Quite likely, your pain intensity will change from day to day.

Tracking your symptoms and pain each day will help tremendously. Not only will you see what activities make your pain worse, you can also see a pattern if foods you eat affect it.

Each of these items will assist your doctor in their diagnosis and choice of treatment:

  • Your activity level – Some types of arthritis will improve when you move. Others will become worse with activity. Therefore, it is important to record what type of activity level you had leading up to the pain.
  • Barometric pressure – No one fully understands how or why weather affects arthritis pain, but recognize the fact it does. Higher barometric pressure (good weather) will cause little to no arthritis pain. On the other hand, low barometric pressure (bad weather) makes arthritis pain considerably worse. Write down what the weather was like leading to your pain and on the day you experienced it.
  • Foods can also make a difference in arthritis pain. Some foods will make it worse, such as red meat, tomatoes and alcohol, and others will make it better, such as salmon, walnuts, vitamin C-rich foods and spices like turmeric and ginger. Pay attention to what foods you have eaten when arthritis flares up.
  • Your weight is the final thing to track. Whereas gaining weight will make arthritis pain worse, losing it can make it feel much better.


Also, continue to track your pain even after you receive your diagnosis and begin treatment. This will help you and your doctor monitor how well the treatment is working.

Download our custom pain tracker document here. Having a pre-created document on which to track your pain will make documenting and measuring your pain easier. When you have an appointment with your doctor, be sure to take the document or journal with you.


Keep Kickin’ AS, Warriors!

Gentle Hugs and Extra Spoons to you all!





Common Causes of Joint Pain

It has been estimated that more than 40 million Americans have joint pain, also called arthralgia, of one kind or another. The most common areas of joint pain are the knees, ankles, wrists, and knuckles, although it can occur at any joint. While there are common causes for joint pain, many people do not know what those causes are.pexels-photo-460550.jpeg

  • Physical injury is one of the most common causes for joint pain. Normally this occurs when a joint is twisted or there is heavy impact on the joint. You may also see joint injury related to sprains or strains. Torn tendons, overstretched ligaments and bone fractures can also affect joints. Whenever joints are dislocated, pain will also be present.
  • Overuse can also be the cause of joint pain. The condition chondromalacia patella, which is the degeneration of cartilage under the kneecap, is something adolescents and young adults may experience.
  • Arthritis is what most people think of when anyone mentions joint pain. There are around 100 different forms of arthritis. The two most common – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – affect nearly 20 million people each year. Other forms of arthritis are gout, septic and reactive.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis, Sarcoidosis, and Lupus are autoimmune diseases that affect ankylosing spondylits spine joint painthe joints. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a chronic, autoimmune disease and form of arthritis that triggers painful inflammation in the body. Most commonly AS affects the back, buttocks & pelvic region, but symptoms can spread to other joints & organs in the body as the disorder progresses. Lupus causes inflammation in the joints but can also affect the blood cells, kidneys, lungs, heart and skin. Sarcoidosis is the growth of small lumps, called granulomas, which can occur throughout the body. Common areas affected are the lungs and lymph nodes but doctors at the Mayo Clinic believe this condition also causes joint pain in the hands, wrists, elbows and ankles.
  • Chronic illnesses or infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, measles, mumps, rheumatic fever and Epstein-Barr can also affect joints. Rubella (also known as German measles), chickenpox and mononucleosis can also cause joint pain even though that is not the main effect of the disease.
  • Rickets, which is from a lack of vitamin D, is another cause of joint pain. This disease is not as common in the United States as in other parts of the world but can cause joint pain or bone softness.
  • Bursitis and tendinitis are also conditions affecting the joints. Bursitis, caused by swelling of the bursae found between the tendons and skin, can cause severe pain, especially when a person is active. Tendinitis, which is inflammation of the tendons connecting bones and muscles, also causes painful joints. This commonly affects the tendons in the heel, shoulder or wrists.osteoporosis joint pain
  • Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become porous which can also cause joint pain.
  • Bone cancer, the growth of abnormal cells in the bones, may either originate in the bone itself or spread to them. In either case, the pain associated with bone cancer can be excruciating.

If you experience joint pain, you may not be able to determine the cause of the pain on your own. The fact that there are a number of possible causes for joint pain is why visiting your primary physician is so important when you begin experiencing constant and/or ongoing joint pain. Your physician will be able to determine the cause of your joint pain and prescribe ways for you treat it so your joint pain does not adversely affect your life.

This website is not run by medical professionals and is solely the experiences of one Ankylosing Spondylitis Warrior who wishes to help and inspire others who suffer with the complications of autoimmune diseases.