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What Does Getting Better Look Like? 5 Ways to Measure Progress

Unlike acute pain, which tends to taper off little-by-little until it’s gone, chronic pain is harder to read. How do you know whether you’re making progress if the pain is OK one day but flares up again the next? Besides that, there’s more to getting better than just getting rid of pain. Getting better also means not letting pain take over your life.

What would “getting better” look like for you? Here’s how to take an active role in measuring your progress toward that goal. 

1. Daily life 

Reflect on your pain and how it affects your daily life. 

  • How easy/difficult it is to sit and/or stand?
  • How well are you able to keep up personal care such as washing and dressing? 
  • Is your social life affected? 

2. Productivity 

  • How does pain limit your productivity at home? At work? With family and friends?  
  • Are you able to do more around the house than you used to?  

3. Activity 

  • Does pain still limit your activity as much?  
  • Can you walk a little farther without an increase in pain? 
  • Are you able to exercise more? 
  • How easy or difficult is it to walk and/or run? 
  • How easy or difficult is it to lift objects? 

4. Mood 

  • Do you experience mood swings?  
  • Do you feel more or less emotional? 
  • Do you feel happier?  
  • Do you feel stronger? 

5. Time

  • Does your pain vary at different times of the day? 
  • What times of day does it feel better (or worse)? 
  • Do you feel stronger or weaker between appointments with your health care provider? 

Small victories 

You can look back at your original baseline measurements and see how you’ve progressed. Your health care provider can also help you record and track these types of measurements. 

It’s not always possible to eliminate all chronic pain. But you can find ways to manage it and make progress. You will face detours in your journey. But try to keep a positive outlook, and celebrate each small step you take toward where you want to go.

View Credits
Primary Author: Jason Nielsen
Clinical Reviewer: Julian Mines, DC, BS, CSCS, CHCQM
Final Review and Approval by Julian Mines, DC, BS, CSCS, CHCQM
--> Date of Annual Review:03/08/2023
Healthyroads' Editorial Staff follow a quality assurance process to help promote each article’s accuracy:
  • A health expert provides input on topic.
  • Scientific evidence from widely accepted health texts, peer-reviewed journals, and other reliable sources is consulted.
  • Final article is reviewed and approved by a health professional.
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