Digital pain drawings improve clinician understanding of patient pain

What are pain drawings?

Clinicians have been asking patients to draw their pain for over 50 years to overcome the complexity of communicating the subjective sensation from patient to medical professional. In a clinical setting, electronic pain drawings and body templates can improve clinicians’ understanding of patients in acute and chronic pain situations.

The ability of Cliniknote’s electronic pain drawings and body templates to visualise a patients’ conception of pain has the potential to improve clinician-patient communication and patient outcomes.

Pain drawings are an important tool to evaluate, communicate, and objectify pain. Pain drawings are also known as pain charts, pain maps, pain body maps and pain diagrams. Pain drawings and body charts started as simple pen-on-paper tools and have now evolved into sophisticated digital health applications paving the way for many new and exciting clinical applications.

How do pain drawings help clinicians understand pain?

Pain is a very complex and subjective topic, regarded as both a symptom of an underlying condition or as a condition of its own.

In a pain drawing, a patient shades or marks painful areas on an illustration representing their body.

Cliniknote’s digital pain drawing captures the essential parts of a patient’s subjective pain experience, allowing clinicians to understand the:

  • Localisation
  • Intensity and
  • distribution of pain

Several studies have been conducted to test the usability, reliability, and repeatability of pain drawings in explaining chronic pain situations such as:

  • Shoulder pain[1]
  • Knee pain[2]
  • Back pain[3] and
  • Neck pain.[4]

How do Cliniknote body templates work?

With Cliniknote, you can easily add a drawing template or upload your own images and templates to draw on. These features allow you to make a seamless transition from paper based templates, to a digital body template.

Using digital pain drawings and body templates together with physical examination can aid differential diagnosis in many pain situations.

The drawing module user interface of the Cliniknote app allows for quick and easy data entry without previous training, a crucial prerequisite when studying patients in acute pain situations.

Symptom descriptor such as:

  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Pressing
  • Tugging
  • Radiating
  • Dull
  • Cramping
  • Tingling
  • Shooting
  • Electric
  • Heavy
  • Tender
  • Throbbing
  • Pricking
  • Numb
  • Hot
  • Cold

Help clinicians easily populate the template while engaging meaningfully with patients.

Contact Cliniknote for more information on how we can help you take your documents digital, and still run your clinic, your way.

[1] Bayam L, Ahmad MA, Naqui SZ, Chouhan A, Funk L. Pain mapping for common shoulder disorders. Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ) 2011 Jul;40(7):353-358. [Medline: 22013572]

[2] Elson DW, Jones S, Caplan N, Stewart S, St Clair Gibson A, Kader DF. The photographic knee pain map: locating knee pain with an instrument developed for diagnostic, communication and research purposes. Knee 2011 Dec;18(6):417-423. [doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2010.08.012] [Medline: 20850976]

[3] Tucker KJ, Fels M, Walker SR, Hodges PW. Comparison of location, depth, quality, and intensity of experimentally induced pain in 6 low back muscles. Clin J Pain 2014 Sep;30(9):800-808. [doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000026] [Medline: 25098553]

[4] Gioia F, Gorga D, Nagler W. The value of pain drawings in the care of neck and back pain. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil 1997 Jan 01;8(3):209-214. [doi: 10.3233/BMR-1997-8305] [Medline: 24572821]

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