Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
How Journaling Helped Ease My Pain Symptoms
photo of blank diary with smartphone and coffee

A couple of years ago, something changed. I was experiencing new symptoms, and I had no explanation why. Parts of my body that didn’t hurt before had started hurting. When I seemed to get a handle on things, new things would pop up. I was getting increasingly frustrated, and it was showing. 

On one of my many doctor appointments, my doctor asked if I was keeping a journal. She explained to me it was like a diary but for your symptoms. She wanted me to write down every time I noticed pain or any kind of discomfort. She then explained that I should also keep a detailed journal of the weather at the time. Also any activities I was doing and what I had eaten and when I had eaten it. To be honest, I thought it was pointless. I mean, what does my food have to do with my pain? A lot, apparently.

I made a folder in the notes section of my phone for my journaling. This way I would have it with me most of the time, and it makes it easier for me to just jot down some notes right then instead of waiting until I got home. My memory isn’t what it used to be! It doesn’t have to be a novel. I mean, it can be if that’s how you like to journal. I just kept track of the foods I ate, the weather, and whatever activity I was doing when I noticed the symptom. That’s it. You could do this every day if you wanted. Even if you didn’t experience any symptoms that day. The more information you can collect can help you understand what is causing the new issues

I kept my journal for about 2 months before I saw a pattern developing. After I would eat certain foods, that afternoon would be miserable with pain and discomfort. It was with this information that we decided to do a food sensitivity test. Turns out I had mild allergies to a few different foods. On my bad pain days, I had meals with a lot of these foods in the ingredients. I now know to pay more attention to the food I eat. I still eat those foods, just not all on the same day anymore!

Journaling isn’t just for the negative stuff. You can write down your good days as well. You may notice weather systems that have a greater effect on your body. This information can help you plan your activities. For example, the day before it rains, my body hurts. My pain levels are greater the bigger the storm is. I now pay attention to the weather and plan accordingly if I can. 

Journaling my symptoms has helped me tremendously. It helped me and the doctor solve a piece of the puzzle. For me, I was able to make a few changes and the results were very noticeable. My energy levels were up and my pain levels manageable. The more you know, the more you know. 




Photo Credit: Nora Carol Photography / Moment via Getty Images

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Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Diagnosed since 2003

Daniel Garcia was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2003. He enjoys gardening and traveling in his pop-up camper with his wife, Melissa, and dogs Chloe and Tilly on his good days. Garcia writes about travel on and gardening, technology, and DIY on You can connect with Daniel via his Instagram account.

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