When I saw my doctor for a bout with low back pain I was asked how "bothersome" is my pain? What kind of word is that to describe my symptoms?

As it turns out, a very useful word. The term "bothersome" or "bothersomeness" has been used to describe disability caused by asthma, migraine headaches, and urinary tract problems. Turns out the same word is a good way to identify risk for long-term disability in back pain patients.

One study showed that a single question about bothersomeness found 80 percent of patients severely disabled with back pain. It seems this word helps improve communication between doctors and patients.

It's a practical and useful way to classify patients by severity of symptoms.