Using the Pain Scale | Specialists Hospital Shreveport (2023)

Using the Pain Scale

If you want your pain to be taken seriously,
It is important that you take the pain scale seriously.

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Because pain is subjective, it is difficult to explain what you’re feeling to another person—even your own doctor. To effectively use the pain scale, familiarize yourself with the levels before your procedure, identifying what key levels are indicative to your pain level. Following a surgery or procedure, typically we tell patients to continue to take medications that allow them to maintain a level of “5 or below.”

0 – Pain Free

Mild Pain –Nagging, annoying, but doesn’t really interfere with daily living activities.

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1 – Pain is very mild, barely noticeable. Most of the time you don’t think about it.

2 – Minor pain. Annoying and may have occasional stronger twinges.

3 – Pain is noticeable and distracting, however, you can get used to it and adapt.

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Moderate Pain –Interferes significantly with daily living activities.

4 – Moderate pain. If you are deeply involved in an activity, it can be ignored for a period of time, but is still distracting.

5 – Moderately strong pain. It can’t be ignored for more than a few minutes, but with effort you still can manage to work or participate in some social activities.

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6 – Moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities. Difficulty concentrating.

Severe Pain –Disabling; unable to perform daily living activities.

7 – Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships. Interferes with sleep.

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8 – Intense pain. Physical activity is severely limited. Conversing requires great effort.

9 – Excruciating pain. Unable to converse. Crying out and/or moaning uncontrollably.

10 – Unspeakable pain. Bedridden and possibly delirious. Very few people will ever experience this level of pain.

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How do you answer the pain scale question? ›

Pain Rating Scale
  1. 0 = No pain.
  2. 1 = Pain is very mild, barely noticeable. Most of the time you don't think about it.
  3. 2 = Minor pain. It's annoying. ...
  4. 3 = Noticeable pain. It may distract you, but you can get used to it.
  5. 4 = Moderate pain. ...
  6. 5 = Moderately strong pain. ...
  7. 6 = Moderately stronger pain. ...
  8. 7 = Strong pain.

What pain scale is used in hospitals? ›

Numeric rating scales (NRS)

This pain scale is most commonly used. A person rates their pain on a scale of 0 to 10 or 0 to 5. Zero means “no pain,” and 5 or 10 means “the worst possible pain.” These pain intensity levels may be assessed upon initial treatment, or periodically after treatment.

When patients are asked to rate their pain from 0 to 10 what does 10 mean? ›

[3] In NRS, patients are asked to score their pain on a scale from 0 to 10, 0 representing “no pain” and 10 being “the worst pain possible.”[3] Only whole numbers are to be used to represent pain in this scale.

How do you score a pain scale? ›

In a Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), patients are asked to circle the number between 0 and 10, 0 and 20 or 0 and 100 that fits best to their pain intensity [1]. Zero usually represents 'no pain at all' whereas the upper limit represents 'the worst pain ever possible'.

What are the 4 levels of pain? ›

The four levels are as follows: 1) sensory-motor; 2) affective; 3) imaginative; and 4) linguistic narrative. The sensory-motor level refers to the “raw feel” of the pain—in my case the raw experience of the throbbing in my hip or leg. The affective level refers to my perceptual-emotional reaction to the pain.

What do the numbers on the pain scale mean? ›

There are many different kinds of pain scales, but a common one is a numerical scale from 0 to 10. Here, 0 means you have no pain; one to three means mild pain; four to seven is considered moderate pain; eight and above is severe pain.

How do hospitals measure pain? ›

In the UK, commonly used observational pain assessment tools include: the Abbey pain scale (Abbey et al 2004); the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia (PAINAD) scale (Warden et al 2003); the Doloplus-2 (Hølen et al 2007); and the Bolton Pain Assessment Tool (BPAT) (Gregory 2012).

Why do nurses ask a pain scale? ›

The Purpose of Pain Scales

Most scales make pain measurable and can tell providers whether your pain is mild, moderate, or severe. They can also set baselines and trends for your pain, making it easier to find appropriate treatments.

Why do nurses use pain scale? ›

Documentation of pain assessment and the effect of interventions are essential to allow communication among clinicians about the current status of the patient's pain and responses to the plan of care.

What is average daily pain score? ›

Average daily pain score (ADPS) is a participant-reported instrument that measures pain intensity using an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS) where 0 is defined as no pain and 10 is defined as worst possible pain. Higher scores indicate worse pain intensity level.

How much pain is too much pain? ›

Severe Pain.

When it intensifies to level 8, pain makes even holding a conversation extremely difficult and your physical activity is severely impaired. Pain is said to be at level 9 when it is excruciating, prevents you speaking and may even make you moan or cry out. Level 10 pain is unbearable.

What is a 7 on the pain scale? ›

The Numerical Rating Pain Scale is a simple pain scale that grades pain levels from 0 (No pain), 1,2, and 3 (Mild), 4,5, and 6 (Moderate), 7,8, and 9 (Severe) to 10 (Worst Pain Possible).

What are the 7 dimensions of pain? ›

Pain has seven dimensions, or core aspects: physical, sensory, behavioral, sociocultural, cognitive, affective, and spiritual. To perform a comprehensive pain assessment, you must understand what each dimension encompasses and be able to evaluate all dimensions accurately.

What is a pain scale out of 10? ›

Most pain scales use numbers from 0 to 10. A score of 0 means no pain, and 10 means the worst pain you have ever felt.

What to do when your doctor ignores your pain? ›

If you feel your primary care doctor doesn't take your symptoms seriously, ask for a referral to a specialist or go to a different practice for a second opinion. A fresh set of eyes can be extremely helpful.

How do you explain pain to a doctor? ›

How to Describe Your Pain to the Doctor
  1. Where do you feel the pain? Tell your doctor all of the areas you are experiencing pain. ...
  2. What kind of pain are you feeling? Please be as specific as you can. ...
  3. How often do you feel pain? Is it chronic or acute? ...
  4. How severe is the pain?
May 9, 2017

What are the 5 stages of pain? ›

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost.

What are pain codes? ›

Generalized pain is coded to 780.96. The new codes related to pain are: 338.0, Central pain syndrome. 338.11, Acute pain due to trauma.

What is the highest level of pain? ›

Pain level ten means unimaginable pain. This pain level is so intense you will go unconscious shortly. Most people have never experienced this level of pain. Those who have suffered a severe accident, such as a crushed hand, and lost consciousness due to the pain and not blood loss, have experienced level 10.

How do nurses assess a patient's pain? ›

Asking a patient to rate the severity of their pain on a scale from 0 to 10, with “0” being no pain and “10” being the worst pain imaginable is a common question used to screen patients for pain.

What are the 8 characteristics of pain? ›

Patients should be asked to describe their pain in terms of the following characteristics: location, radiation, mode of onset, character, temporal pattern, exacerbating and relieving factors, and intensity.

Why is it so difficult to measure pain? ›

Pain is a difficult outcome to measure due to its multifaceted and subjective nature.

What are the disadvantages of using a pain scale? ›

The disadvantages are that it is time consuming, difficult to complete, and not yet evaluated for treatment sensitivity. “It is a very cumbersome scale and can be overwhelming for the patient,” Ms.

Is the pain scale effective? ›

Using a pain scale to communicate an individual's pain level helps health care providers gauge how each person feels on an individual, case by case basis. Pain scales are a relatively simple concept but are quite beneficial especially for those who have difficulty verbally expressing the extent of their pain.

How do you know if a patient is in pain? ›

Behavioural and autonomic signs of pain
  1. frowning, sad or frightened face.
  2. grimacing, wincing, eye tightening or closing.
  3. distorted facial expressions - brow raising/lowering, cheek raising, nose wrinkling, lip corner pulling.
  4. rapid blinking.
Nov 22, 2021

Why is a pain score required? ›

Pain measurement quantifies pain intensity and enables the nurse to determine the efficacy of interventions aimed at reducing pain.

What does it mean to be red flagged by a doctor? ›

You've been referred as a red flag because your GP or dentist feels your symptoms need further investigation as soon as possible and has referred you to a specialist. There are many common conditions that these symptoms could be linked to, including the possibility of cancer.

Can a doctor deny you pain medication? ›

Staying aware of your patient rights: Your physician is allowed to deny you a prescription for pain medication, but you also have the right to learn about your other treatment options and choose the option best suited to your needs.

What is the golden rule of pain management? ›

The key to pain management is to treat your patient the way you'd want to be treated.

What kind of pain is considered severe? ›

Severe pain is defined as pain that interferes with some or all of the activities of daily living. May cause bed confinement or chair rest because of the severity. Typically doesn't go away, and treatment needs to be continuous for days, weeks, months, or years.

What is the most reliable pain indicator? ›

Self-report of pain is the single most reliable indicator of pain intensity.

Why does pain get worse at night? ›

Common causes of pain at night include: Hormone levels – production of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol drops to its lowest point at around midnight, so this could see discomfort rise for certain ailments. Sleep position – staying in one position all night can cause your joints to get stiff.

Is chronic pain considered a disability? ›

The SSA does not consider chronic pain to be a disability, so there is no listing for it in the SSA's Blue Book. Chronic pain, even if it is severe and disabling, does not qualify unless you can prove it is caused by a verifiable condition that lasts for at least 12 months.

What are examples of chronic pain? ›

Cancer pain affects most people with advanced cancer. Arthritis pain affects more than 50 million Americans each year. Headaches affect millions of U.S. adults. Some of the most common types of chronic headaches are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.

What does extreme pain feel like? ›

It may feel like a sharp stab or dull ache. It may also be described as throbbing, pinching, stinging, burning, or sore. Pain may be consistent, it may start and stop frequently, or it may occur only under some conditions. It may be acute, developing suddenly and lasting for a short period of time.

What is a Level 6 pain? ›

6 – Moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities. Difficulty concentrating. Severe Pain – Disabling; unable to perform daily living activities.

Is there a pain limit? ›

Your pain threshold is the minimum point at which something, such as pressure or heat, causes you pain. For example, someone with a lower pain threshold might start feeling pain when only minimal pressure is applied to part of their body. Pain tolerance and threshold varies from person to person.

How is the pain disability questionnaire scored? ›

The items of the questionnaire are assessed on a 0–10 numeric rating scale in which 0 means no disability and 10 is maximum disability. The sum of the seven items equals the total score of the PDI, which ranges from 0 to 70, with higher scores reflecting higher interference of pain with daily activities.

How do you explain pain assessment? ›

Pain assessment is a broad concept involving clinical judgment based on observation of the type, significance and context of the individual's pain experience. There are challenges in assessing paediatric pain, none more so than in the pre-verbal and developmentally disabled child.

What is an example of a 10 on the pain scale? ›

A 10 on the pain scale represents the most severe or worst pain you have ever experienced. Pain is a symptom of many conditions, and its intensity and duration vary by illness. The perception of pain also varies from person to person. What may be tolerable for one person may be unbearable for another.

How do you score disability? ›

The scoring has three steps:
  1. Step 1 – Summing of recoded item scores within each domain.
  2. Step 2 – Summing of all six domain scores.
  3. Step 3 – Converting the summary score into a metric ranging from 0 to 100 (where 0 = no disability; 100 = full disability).

What is the most widely used pain questionnaire? ›

The McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) (Melzack 1975) is the most frequently used questionnaire for the multidimensional assessment of pain.


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