Pain Scales: Quantifying the Subjective
Whenever a health care provider asks my pain level on a scale of 1-10, I start with a disclaimer. Pain levels are entirely subjective and it is nearly impossible to assign numbers to vague concepts that vary from one person to another. This comparative pain scale is one of the best I’ve found, but my level 3 is a 6 on this scale
Putting numbers into words makes an ill-defined, fuzzy scale into perspective. Detailing what the numbers mean to you may help you track your pain more consistently. Some people recommend sharing the detailed chart with your doctor. Not a bad idea, except few doctors have the time to sort through all that. And he or she can’t keep track of what your scale means compared to Jenny’s or Lucy’s or Dave’s. It may be too much information to expect them to digest.
Instead of trying to assign numbers, researchers usually use a simple scale of none, moderate and severe. I use a more detailed version with mild, mild-moderate, moderate, moderate-severe, and severe. I still refer to numbers sometime, but they are always within the context of this classification. For example, 6 is moderate, 7 is moderate-severe.
What’s your pain scale? How have you communicated it to your health care providers?