The acronym SOCRATES is a mnemonic fondly used by medical students to remember basic questions to ask about a patient's pain:
Site - Where does it hurt?
Onset - When did it start?
Character - How would you describe the pain? Sharp, dull, stabbing, cramping etc.?
Radiation - Does the pain go anywhere else?
Attenuating factors - Does anything make it better? Position, eating, resting, medication etc.
Time course - Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
Exacerbating factors - Does anything bring it on or make it worse? Position, pressure, exercise, stress etc.
Severity - How bad is the pain out of 10, if 10 is the worst pain imaginable and 0 is no pain?
As with many medical mnemonics, this can have the unfortunate (possibly intended) effect of stopping people from thinking, which is obviously what you need to do to figure things out. Having said this, there are a limited number of conditions likely to be responsible in any given patient and systematic questioning helps with the rest of the history, in a sort of Venn or flow-diagram way, to narrow your options to one or two which you can examine and run tests for.