Physical exam to assess chronic pain

During a physical exam to assess chronic pain, the health professional will look for areas of tenderness, inflammation, deformity, weakness, or numbness. The exam may also be more targeted if the area of pain is limited and its cause is clear.

Your health professional will examine your reflexes and look for your reaction to certain movements. Other clues to your diagnosis, such as swelling, coolness, color change, or excessive sweating in one limb, may be noted.

Physical function may be evaluated by:

  • Your ability to carry out daily activities. Your health professional may evaluate your ability to function in daily activities and how your pain affects these activities. Any aids or devices that you use, such as a cane or brace, will be noted, along with your general activity level.
  • Measures of function. Your physical function will be evaluated by checking your balance and the range of motion in your joints.

Last Updated: January 20, 2009

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