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Pain Levels

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,427

This is a subject that pops up at least a dozen times a day.

The origin of the modern day pain scale came in 1981 from a Children's Burn center to allow children to point to pictures of their pain levels.    That original chart has not changed much, but the use and abuse of it has over the years.    

One aspect of any pain scale is to identify the  (ADL) Activities of Daily Life.  The impact on a person's ADL should always coincide with their pain levels.  However, pain is very subjective. One persons pain level of 7 could be another persons pain level of 2 and the other way also.

Assuming we use the number scale, here is the official breakdown used by hospitals, doctors, nurses, practices and just about any medical center.

0                         No Impact to ADL
1-3  Mild             Little impact to ADL
4-6  Moderate   Some impacts to ADL
7-10 Severe      Unable to perform ADL

The important thing here is anytime a pain level starts to reach 7, you need to start thinking about getting to the emergency room and  you need to get someone to take you.
After a pain level of 9, you can no longer make decisions for yourself, can not drive, basically, can not take care of yourself.

So many people have a misconception about pain levels.  They believe the higher the pain level they state, that they will get more pain medications and/or attention from the medical field.
Most trained medical professionals can easily distinguish between pain levels 4-6 and 8-10.

Just this past week, I read member's comments were they had anywhere from a pain level 11 to 20+.   This is impossible in terms of the medical field.  However, I can understand that you may feel those high pain levels.

My recommendation in the future is to always be aware of pain levels and do not inflate them.  Keep them within the accepted scales.

Perhaps someday, there will be a real meter than can accurately identify a person's pain level

Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 


  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    edited 07/10/2017 - 4:35 PM

    I am seeing doctors today using more quality of life questioning vs. numbers. Often when I am with medical practitioner and I say my pain changes so much what I give you this morning will not be what is at night or in flare, with weather etc they basically just say I have to put something and I can see in their face they do not really like the numbering system but its the status quo.  Maybe I am wrong , but I would assume they use it reluctantly because its the best we have for documentation at this time and even though the numbering has alot of room for not correctly representing a person when you put it together over time the trend speaks more accurately ( number is less relevant compared to trend going down or up).  Just an observation that may not be true at all, but curious if you see same ?

    An interesting thing I saw at my PM was after my sympathetic block when I said I have a couple of days of bliss, where I was able to think clearly without burning pain my doctor said I think I have underestimated the amount of pain you are in since you are stoic, personable and rarely complain when you come in .  Then asked: How many times do you think about your foot pain a day ?  I have never been asked that and when I said that its endless and I really never stop because the pain is always there burning he changed the entire approach to my treatment and then these were the type of questions I got to describe pain, how many times do I think about it, how do I feel my quality of life is right now, what would I do if that pain was under control and how much would it differ from now.  Personally those are far easier to discuss from my side than a number. My foot pain is significantly better with new approach and more aggressive treatment even though if its cold when I am in office the number may not have changed since last time. Underestimating the number can be almost as damaging to treatment as overestimating, luckily I have a detective as a PM and something I said about the amount of relief and how life was triggered a different set of questioning.  It has been the best I can ask for since, I had just been so happy to have someone taking me serious and giving me any treatment I accepted the massive pain as price to pay for a while and better than what I had when no one knew what was wrong. 

    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • I always found that my doctors always ask "what is your pain level right now" and never want to hear about, or ask where and when your pain level changes. I am involved with a work comp claim and some of these doctors will also ask me what can't you do because of pain, to me that's a loaded question, my reply has always been, "I can do anything but I will pay for it in pain. 

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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,427

    i just saw this one today:


    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561

    That is hilarious, but what a way to break the ice at a doctors appt ?  Both the patient and doctor would get a laugh out of that one

    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • I have a chart on my wall at work so I can put a number to how I feel. Right now I run at a 4 being medicated. I feel decent, if I was a normal person, an OTC pain reliever may be of some use. With activity my pain gets worse as high as a 7. Some mornings I start out at that level. My pain doctors can usually get an idea of how I'm doing by how I walk into the office. 

    Diagnosis: Thoracic facet syndrome & cervical and thoracic radiculopathy from car accident trauma.
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