What Kind of Pain Do You Feel? (Chinese-English Medical Interpretation)

One of the big questions during medical appointments is the patient’s feeling of discomfort and pain. Below is a quick guide to the different types of pains that may come up during a medical interview, along with their Chinese translations. Hope you’ll find this helpful.

Type of Pain Symptoms Chinese Translation
Ache Continuous pain. 痛(tong) , 疼(téng), or疼痛 (téng tong)
Band-Like Pain A squeezing type of pain. 擠壓痛 (jǐ yā tòng)
Burning, searing Pain that feels like it was caused by heat or fire. 灼痛 (zhuó tòng) or燒灼感 (shāo zhuó gǎn, a burning sensation)
Cramps (menstrual) Menstrual pain. 經痛 (jīng tòng)
Cramping, grabbing pain Spasmodic muscular contraction. Quick pain that feels like spasms or a sudden snatch 绞痛 (jiǎo tong) or 痙攣 (jìng luán)
Cold Pain Pain that comes with cold sensations. Often seen around the lower back, abdomen, and joints. 冷痛 (lěng tong)
Dull pain Pain that exists persistently but without much intensity. Pain that’s bearable. 鈍痛 (dùn tòng), 悶痛 (mēn tòng), or 隱痛 (yǐn tòng)
Heavy Pain Pain with a feeling of being weighted down. Often seen in the head and limbs. 重痛 (zhòng tòng)
Moving pain A pain that moves continually to different body parts. 走窜痛 (zǒu chuàn tòng)
Needle-like A pain as if from being punctured with a needle. 刺痛 (cì tòng)
Pressing pain Feeling as if there’s a weight pushing against part of the body. 壓痛 (yā tòng)
Sharp pain Cutting or penetrating pain by a sharp or pointing instrument. 尖痛 (jiān tòng), 劇痛 (jù tòng)
Shooting, stabbing pain Intermittent flash of pain. 閃痛 (shǎn tong)
Splitting pain Sensation of being ripped apart. 撕裂痛 (sī liè tòng) or 撕裂般疼痛 (sī liè bān de  tòng)
Tingling pain Feelings of numbness as if being pricked by multiple needles. 麻刺痛 (má cì tòng)

What other types of pain have you encountered, or do you think I missed? Please share.

Happy interpreting!

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4 thoughts on “What Kind of Pain Do You Feel? (Chinese-English Medical Interpretation)

  1. jane wilson says:

    shang 傷 (commonly translated as “injury” or “to harm”)
    zhongtong 重痛 (heavy or serious pain)
    nongtong 弄痛 (deceptive pain),

    These come from Dorothy Ko’ s article on foot-binding

  2. jane wilson says:

    BU TONG ZE TONG, TONG ZE BU TONG…不通這痛, 痛則不通

    Pain That Penetrates Through To The Back 串痛 Chuan Tong
    Painful And Swollen Throat 咽喉肿痛 Yan Hou Zhong Tong
    Painful Bloody Urinary Difficulty 血淋 Xue Lin
    Painful Menstruation, Dysmenorrhea 痛经 Tong Jing
    Painful Obstruction Illness 痺症 Bi Zheng
    Painful Obstruction Of The Blood 血痺 Xue Bi
    Painful Obstruction Of The Bone 骨痺 Gu Bi
    Painful Obstruction Of The Sinews 筋痺 Jin Bi
    Painful Obstruction Of The Throat 喉痺 Hou Bi
    Painful Urinary Dribbling Disorder 淋症 Lin Zheng
    Painful Wind 痛风 Tong Feng

  3. dorien says:

    Hi ., im a nursing student and i encounter a lot of chinese patients.. , this is quite useful .. thanks.. but how can we ask them if they are feeling pain or not?

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