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The ABC’s of Pain

The subjective intake is essential in capturing missing pieces of a patient’s pain puzzle. To prevent leaving any stones unturned, using a mnemonic is a great place to start. It is as easy as the “ABC’s”. A mnemonic will keep your intake focused and streamlined especially through the energetic ups and downs of any given day.

For starters, know the pain alphabet: LMNOPQRSTU

L: location

M: mechanism of injury

N: new problem or narrative

O: occurrence

P: palliative/provocative

Q: quality/quantity of pain

R: radiating

S: site

T: time

U: how does it affect U? (ADL’s, quality of life, etc.)

There are many other mnemonics out there but this is the one I use on every patient, every time. No exceptions. OPQRST is the simplified version which may be easier to remember initially.

Try utilizing what works best for you and use it consistently. Some sources estimate that 80-90% of the diagnosis comes from the patient’s history alone! The objective testing to follow will prove or disprove your working hypothesis.

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