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  • Writer's pictureTinWai Ip

My Dentist Talks Too MUCH!


We don’t mean to annoy you. It’s important.

Medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers, take a detailed history of pain to gain insights into the nature, cause, and impact of the pain experienced by the patient. A detailed pain history is an essential part of clinical assessment that helps with diagnosis, guides treatment planning, monitors response to treatment, and addresses patient concerns. By systematically gathering information about the nature and impact of pain, medical professionals can provide comprehensive and patient-centred care that optimizes outcomes and improves quality of life.

Taking a detailed pain history allows medical professionals to listen to the patient's concerns, validate their experience, and address any misconceptions or fears they may have about their condition or treatment. Additionally, understanding the impact of pain on the patient's daily activities, mood, sleep, and quality of life helps in tailoring treatment plans to meet their individual needs and preferences.



There’s many factors to disease that can’t be seen visually. When trying to figure out what is wrong with the human body, we usually look to the signs and symptoms. SIGNS are things we can see; like a runny nose. SYMPTOMS are things you feel; like a headache.


1.       You’re the foremost leading expert of your own body!

Patients are often the best source of information about their symptoms, as they can provide detailed accounts of when the symptoms started, how they have progressed, and any factors that worsen or alleviate them.

Patients may have insights into their medical history, previous illnesses, medications, and lifestyle factors that can influence the development and presentation of symptoms.

Patients may have unique perspectives, concerns, or fears related to their symptoms that can influence their presentation and interpretation.

Acknowledging and exploring the patient's perspective during the history-taking process can enhance communication, build trust, and uncover relevant information that may guide diagnostic decision-making.

2.       Sometimes, it’s complicated

Some medical conditions present with symptoms that are subtle, intermittent, or nonspecific, making them challenging to detect solely through clinical examination.

A thorough history-taking process allows healthcare providers to uncover subtle details or patterns in symptoms that may not be immediately apparent during a physical examination.

3.       It’s all relative

Many symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, and mood disturbances, are subjective experiences that can vary greatly between individuals.

Patient-reported symptoms may provide valuable insights into the severity, quality, location, and temporal pattern of their discomfort, helping healthcare providers narrow down possible diagnoses.



The mnemonic "SOCRATES" is a helpful tool used in healthcare to systematically assess and describe pain. Each letter in the acronym represents a different aspect of pain assessment, facilitating a thorough understanding of the pain experience. Let's break down each component of SOCRATES:


S - Site: Where’s the pain/ problem?


O - Onset: When’d it start?

Determine when the pain began and whether it started suddenly or gradually. Understanding the onset of pain can provide insights into potential causes or triggers. For instance, did the pain start after an injury, activity, or certain event?


C - Character: What’s it feel like?

Describe the sensation using descriptive terms such as sharp, dull, throbbing, stabbing, burning, or aching. This helps differentiate between different types of pain and provides clues to its underlying cause.


R - Radiation: Does the pain travel to another part of you body?

For example, does the pain start in one location and then travel or extend to nearby or distant regions? Radiation of pain can indicate nerve involvement or referred pain from an underlying issue.


A - Associated Symptoms:

Consider any additional symptoms or factors associated with the pain. This may include symptoms such as swelling, redness, fever, nausea, vomiting, or changes in bowel or bladder habits. Understanding associated symptoms can help narrow down possible diagnoses.


T - Time Course: How long does it last for?

Evaluate the timing and duration of the pain. Determine whether the pain is constant or intermittent, how long each episode lasts, and whether there are any patterns or exacerbating factors. Time-related information can aid in assessing the severity and progression of the pain.


E - Exacerbating Factors: What makes it feel better?

Explore what makes the pain better or worse. Ask about activities, movements, positions, medications, or interventions that alleviate or aggravate the pain. This helps identify strategies for pain management and provides clues to its underlying cause.


S - Severity: How bad is it? 1-10; 10 being the worst pain you can think of

Assess the intensity or severity of the pain. Understanding pain severity guides treatment decisions and monitoring of pain relief interventions.


By utilizing the mnemonic SOCRATES, healthcare professionals can systematically gather detailed information about a patient's pain experience. This comprehensive assessment enhances communication, aids in diagnosis, and informs tailored treatment plans to address the individual's needs effectively.






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