Let’s first define variable pain. Variable pain indicates that the pain or the individual’s chief symptom complaint changes. In other words, the symptoms are not constant, they VARY. This may be in relationship to pain intensity, location, or type (ache, sharp, burning, tingling). If the symptoms change at all, in any way, then your symptoms are considered variable. For our example, today we will discuss pain variations as that is the easiest for most people to relate to.
The chart below illustrates pain levels that change through time. As we can see with the chart, pain will rise and fall throughout the day – sometimes higher and sometimes lower.
It is common for people to try and block out pain, as most do not want to become fixated on their pain. This can sometimes be a detriment as people become unaware of what may reduce or provoke their pain. The key to managing symptoms is identifying periods of time when your pain is better or worse. Recognizing when we are in more pain isn’t difficult. It can be more challenging recognizing when are symptoms are our better or our best (sometimes this is routinely overlooked). The chart below illustrates periods of time when symptoms are at their highest and lowest.
It is important to look at the activities that we are performing when we are both feeling better and feeling worse, as these activities may be exasperating the pain. Start pairing your activities/actions while you are feeling better or worse -see if you notice any patterns.