SEARCH


BROWSE ARCHIVES

Why Numeric ‘Pain Scales’ Fall Short

If you’ve ever been to the hospital or a doctor’s office, you’ve almost certainly been asked: “What’s your current pain level on a scale of 0 to 10?” Or maybe you’ve been asked to rate your pain on a visual scale by pointing to the smiley (or frowny) face that best describes your pain. These aren’t necessarily the wrong questions to ask – but doctors should be asking for a lot more information in order to accurately evaluate a patient’s level of pain.

The Problem with Conventional Pain Scales

Conventional pain scales can be useful for analyzing and tracking a person’s pain over time. But as you know, pain is a subjective experience. These scales don’t measure how pain impacts daily life.

Only thinking about pain on a 0-10 scale can also place a misguided if not well-meaning emphasis on getting a patient to “zero” amount of pain. This might be possible – but it’s not likely, and it can create unrealistic expectations from both the doctor and the patient. 

How Pain Management Specialists Ask About Pain

Pain management specialists know they need to ask detailed questions about a patient’s pain. Their goal is to gain a better understanding of a patient’s subjective experience, their beliefs about pain (which may even have cultural influences), their goals and expectations regarding their pain, and ultimately, what’s causing and contributing to their painful symptoms.

Questions about pain that you may hear from your pain management doctor include:

  • Can you describe what your pain feels like? 
  • Can you give me some examples of how your pain affects your daily life?
  • Does your pain wake you up at night?
  • What makes your pain better or worse?
  • What are your biggest goals, fears, and beliefs about your pain?

These and other questions allow a pain management specialist to truly understand how pain affects their patients. With this knowledge, doctors can create a treatment plan that focuses not just on short-term solutions, but on improving the patient’s overall quality of life.

SEARCH


BROWSE ARCHIVES


RECENT POSTS

July 1, 2022
Living With Chronic Pain
June 13, 2022
What Does Fibromyalgia Feel Like?
June 8, 2022
What Are CRPS and RSD?
May 13, 2022
Why Do Pain Management Groups Use a Biopsychosocial Approach?

INDYPAIN NEWSLETTER


FOLLOW US



RECENT POSTS

July 1, 2022
Living With Chronic Pain
June 13, 2022
What Does Fibromyalgia Feel Like?
June 8, 2022
What Are CRPS and RSD?
May 13, 2022
Why Do Pain Management Groups Use a Biopsychosocial Approach?

INDYPAIN NEWSLETTER


FOLLOW US


STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
We have the answers.

Complete the form below to have one of our team members reach out to you in the next business day OR call us at (317) 706-7246.

CFP General Contact Us Form

While not required, your answers to the following questions may help us process your consultation request more quickly:

Where is your pain? How long have you been in pain? Days/weeks/months/years? Do you have a diagnosis already, and if so, what is it? Have you had a previous surgery that failed to relieve your pain?

*1000 characters maximum for text area
Consent
Connect with us