15 Questions you should ask a patient in pain

Pain can be described as a situation of malaise that we all experience, sooner or later, as nobody is saved from feeling pain at some point in their lives.

It can be caused by different reasons, and it is important to try to describe pain so we can classify it, as it usually means that there is something wrong with us, physically or mentally.

In this article, we analyze how we can help or lead a person, by asking a series of questions, so that can describe to us the intensity of pain, the zone of the body affected, and a list of important characteristics about it.

Asking these types of questions to the patient can help us on maintaining a history of what they are feeling or how they are being affected, especially if they are elderly or have suffered a considerable accident.

This can help us in a great way to provide a treatment or medication to cope with the situation, in addition to adapting to what is affecting the patient at the time.

Important questions to ask when someone feels pain

If we are going to make a pain history of a patient, then this information should be always included:

  • Pain Location
  • Radiation
  • Severity
  • Quality
  • Aggravating and relieving factors
  • Timing
  • Patient Understanding of Pain
  • Impact on everyday activities

Pain Location

We can ask some questions to the patient so he/she can describe where it is located.

  • Can you show or point me where it hurts?
  • Does it hurt somewhere else, or just in that zone?


If the patient can experience a sensation in which the pain moves from one area to another, we can ask him to indicate this movement.

  • Does it move from a zone to another, or follows a determinate course?


Try to classify the hurting on a scale so the patient can determine what they are feeling.
You can also try to ask if the pain is always with the same severity or intensity in every situation or not.

  • Can you classify in a scale from 1 to 5 the pain intensity you are feeling right now?
  • Is it always with the same intensity? Or it increases/decreases with the time?


With the patient description of it, we can identify better what are they suffering and how to treat it.

  • Would you describe it as an ache, a sharp pain or a shooting pain?

Aggravating and relieving factors

These questions can be used to know how effective are the activities or medication the patient is following, as well as identifying the actions that can improve or worsen the patient condition.

  • What actions make the hurting more intense / less intense?
  • Does pain increase with movement? Or do you always experience the same sensation?


This is important to know how the patient’s discomfort evolves, or how it can affect differently through the varied times of the day.

  • At what time of the day it increases/ decreases?
  • Is the pain worse in the morning, or at night?
  • Does the pain in the area last for a long time or just come and go?

Patient Understanding of Pain

It is truly important for the patient that he or she understands how does the pain behave during the different circumstances or moments of the day, or how can he/she follow certain treatment which pretends to improve their health, reducing the pain so it cannot affect everyday activities.

In general terms, any patient could be able to follow a correct treatment, with or without medication prescription, by him/her own. Although it is important he/she can be supported by friends and family to ease the treatment period.

Impact on everyday activities

Maintaining a patient’s history and the evolution of the treatment adopted, according to his condition, we can notice the fact of how it has really affected his lifestyle or his daily habits.


  • Has pain affected sleep or daily rest?
  • Do they have had problems feeding properly?
  • Has it caused them problems in your emotions or the relationship with other people in different personal or work environments?
  • Has it affected, stopped or limited them when carrying out physical activities that they could do before without problems?

As we have seen throughout the article, there are several questions we can ask a patient or person who is suffering a certain condition to try to detect the possible cause of it, and power in this way, provide a guide to an appropriate treatment to follow.

It is certainly difficult to carry out this correctly without maintaining a patient’s history and changes under that situation.

We always recommend immediately with an authorized medical professional.

This article aims to simply inform. We always recommend first of all consult with a medical professional at your trusted center.

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