Another Pain Scale

I had discussed before how difficult it is often for me to give my pain a score. So my physical therapist enlightened me with a relatively simple pain scale that is easy to follow.

Since then, I have found another on a pain diary app (that looks great but unfortunately doesn’t work), made by Andrew Brooks for Windows Phone, last updated in 2011. Since the app is free to download, I didn’t see an issue with sharing the attached pain scale here, which is more extensive than the one I described before.

0 = no pain

1 = pain is very mild, barely noticeable; most of the time you don’t think about it

Definitely a good day when I can say I am at an “1” with this scale. Parts of my body may be at “0” but most of it almost never is anymore.

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

The “2-3” range is probably my new normal on my current medication regime, according to this scale, which is more or less consistent with the last one.

4 = moderate pain; if you are deeply involved in an activity, it can be ignored for a period of time but it is still distracting

5 = moderately strong pain; it can’t be ignored for more than a few minutes, but with effort you can still manage to work or participate in some social activities

Sort of a sub-normal for me when I am at “4-5” on this scale, but not quite flare-level.

6 = moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities; difficulty concentrating

7 = severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships; interferes with sleep

The trigger points in my midsection have been acting up recently, starting to throb ridiculously and shooting nasty pains in all directions. I would say that experience falls under a “6-7” on this scale. I would call this flare-level pain. The cumulative effect of the flare tends to rise the longer it lasts.

8 = intense pain; physical activity is severely limited, conversing requires great effort

I think I only hit “level 8” periodically and in waves, like when the throbbing pain wave has me in its grip. I am lucky to have not experienced this level of pain constantly for extended periods of time – largely thanks to emergency pain medication!

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 type of pain.

The last two levels sound like the pain you would feel if you were shot in the trenches or had to have surgery without anesthesia. Thankfully, I have experienced neither. I have been at a point when I am crying or moaning out of pain, but I feel like I could have pulled myself together to save face if I really needed to. And I have never been delirious with pain, thank goodness. Apparently, even the developer of the pain scales seems to acknowledge that few people will ever reach “level 10.”

While I kind of like that this pain scale is more extensive and covers more ground than the last one I posted, I also feel that it is almost too extensive. On a daily basis, I doubt I would remember what each level means as easily as I would with the other, simpler scale. Still, I thought I would put it out there to keep a record of it in case I ever need it in the future, or if it can help someone else!



9 thoughts on “Another Pain Scale

    1. You’re most welcome! So glad you liked it and found it useful!! 🙂 I shared a simpler pain scale on a previous post (linked in the post above) that might be helpful as well, and easier to remember. You can check that one out too and see which works for better you.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m multiple morbidities. I hate, loath, abominate these ineffectual and useless pain scales. I prefer telling them what specific life activity/function/movement I am no longer able to do. Dying nerves do not go quietly into that dark night. They scream all the way and jack you up when you’re just trying to get through your day. However, meaningless numbers fit oh so nicely into standard boxes so they can administer standard pain procedures which is futile because no one’s pain is standard, we all vary just enough biologically that our pain treatments need to vary.

    ooooo yes, I’m jaded as hell. But my blog is about other things to take my mind out of pain. And, yes, you show weakness in academia and the knives come out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry to hear of your ailments. 😦 I completely understand your frustration with pain scales though. I agree that it makes a lot more sense to just describe what the pain feels like instead of trying to give an objective score to something that is inherently subjective. And I have tried doing so, but at the end of the explanation, they still ask me “so what number would you give your pain?” Since I realized that you cannot get away from giving a number to your pain, it may be better to have at least some sort of a personalized scale that you can go by that would make some sense to you and your doctor, instead of just pulling a number out of a bag (which is sort of what I used to do before). A poor way to document and treat pain for sure, but it’s about all I’ve got so far and trying to make the best of it!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me. I am looking forward to exploring more of your blog. I hope it brings you some peace amidst the pains. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Looking back I see that reply was rather fierce. I did not intend that, please forgive the rant. It is good to work towards a more effective pain scale and this one is more useful than “10 – The worst pain imaginable.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did not mind at all!! 🙂 I can totally understand how this topic can ignite some passions, as it really is a frustrating process that we are made to go through. I had an honest talk with my physical therapist about this some time ago and she had suggested a simpler scale than the one in this post. Here is the link to that if you are interested >> It really helped me know what number to pick out of the bag when I was forced to do so; although whenever she asks me about my pain, I always begin with a description of it first!

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  2. I actually am in a constant search for ways to convey verbally my pain better to a couple of very close people. I have a habit of completely clamming up when I don’t have the exact words or the complete answer to someone’s questions. And so I like pain scale posts. I liked this scale. I have known the #10 pain and I have seen a close person with it when they had a burst appendix. But the worst part about my #10 pain was not its amplitude but its duration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean!! Even with a pain scale, I am often tongue-tied when I have to explain how I feel to people. I really need to work to get better at it. I am so glad you liked this scale, and I hope it helps you better communicate your pain. 🙂 This is a simpler one that I got from my physical therapist, not as extensive but easier to remember I think >> I am using some combination of the two to judge my pain “number” for the most part.

      I am really sorry that you had to experience the level 10 pain. I cannot imagine what that must have felt like. 😦 I do think that most pains would be tolerable if they were short-lived. It’s the ones that stick around that are the worst! I hope you have found some relief now from that kind of pain.


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