How to Talk About Pain –

July 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm (Uncategorized)

This is a wonderful article about how we lack the kind of language we have for love, jealousy, and other human experiences, for pain. We have moved away from seeing pain as a spiritual experience as medical science has learned how to dull it past the point of overwhelming sensation (at least some of the time).

What language do you use to describe your pain? Do you use the same words with your doctors as you do with your loved ones or caretakers? Are there works of literature that you feel expresses the kind of pain you experience, or details what it is like to be in acute or chronic pain?



  1. Costel Hildr said,

    Usually the pain I’ve had to describe my migraines or my coccydynia and I often use the same descriptors (white hot fire acid). Although for my migraines, I often use the descriptor “like an ice-pick being shoved into my eyes.” (As that’s where they most often appear.) I really really really love “ice-pick being shoved into ____” apparently because I’ve used that for earaches too. Although I had a friend who used to grumble at me because I’ve “never been stabbed before” and therefore shouldn’t use it as a descriptor. That always annoyed me because there WERE no other words to describe that sort of pain. :/

  2. Alex said,

    I end up using different sets of words to describe things to different sets of people. For my medical professionals, I tend to focus on what my pain is doing–the how it it affecting movement, job stuff, ADLs, ability to concentrater, etc, where it is located, and what, of the standard categories they ask about–stabbing, burning, throbbing, etc, it falls into.

    When I talk about it with friends, I talk about the holistic experience of my pain and usually use descriptors that would have my docs giving me the side eye. Lately, I’ve been describing my pain as an external force that is trying to such my general happiness and well being out of me with it’s straw stuck in the areas that are currently hurting the worst. I externalize it with friends etc a lot more because it is not something I have consented to have in my body or otherwise welcomed to take up residence. I’ve spoken and out that in particular with one medical doctor, but they largely are not interested in my coping mechanisms or theories of pain, so I just play the game with them and continue on my way.

  3. Margaret Irene said,

    I tend to describe things in colors and textures. Not necessarily pain, but all feelings (physical, emotional, and otherwise). Pain in particular, some of my pain can be described with the texture of sand paper, others with the color of swamps at night and the texture of silly putty. For me it is the best way to reconcile all of the sensations bombarding my senses.

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