Pain Scales

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It is currently impossible to objectively measure pain.

At the same time, sometimes we need to know how much something hurts to guide treatment.

Humans have come up with a lot of pain scales, and here are some of the ones I've tripped over.

The generic pain scale

"description follows this image."

A 0-10 scale of pain in a rainbow where the top of the scale (10) is in a dark red and the bottom of the scale (0) is light blue.

From bottom to top, the levels are:

  • 0. no pain. I have no pain
  • 1. Minimal. My pain is hardly noticeable.
  • 2. Mild. I have a low level of pain. I am aware of my pain only when I pay attention to it.
  • 3. Uncomfortable. My pain bothers me but I can ignore it most of the time.
  • 4. Moderate. I am constantly aware of my pain but I can continue most activities.
  • 5. Distracting. I think about my pain most of the time. I cannot do some of the activities I need to do each day because of the pain.
  • 6. Distressing. I think about my pain all of the time. I give up many activities because of my pain.
  • 7. Unmanageable. I am in pain all of the time. I give up many activities because of my pain.
  • 8. Intense. My pain is so severe that it is hard to think of anything else. Talking and listening are difficult.
  • 9. Severe. My pain is all that I can think about. I can barely talk or move because of the pain.
  • 10. Unable to move. I am in bed and can't move due to my pain. I need someone to take me to the emergency room to get help for my pain.