The Pain Scale: Why Do I Loathe This Method?

If you are disabled or chronically ill you probably have heard of the pain scale and are very familiar with it! The pain scale is in pretty much in all doctor’s offices so even if you aren’t disabled you probably have heard of this method but just in case you haven’t I will educate you on what it is. The pain scale lets doctors know how much pain their patients are in by measuring it from zero to ten. A ten being the worst pain you could possibly be in and zero means you are in no pain at all! Personally, I have never been a fan of this method especially now since living with chronic pain because often times my pain is much higher than any number on your pain scale.  I never know how I should rate because I don’t want to rate it too high and raise concern but I don’t want to rate it too low and not be taken seriously. The pain scale has never been a good method for me to accurately express how I am feeling and that may be the case for most people with chronic pain so today I am going to talk about why that could be.

My pain cannot be given a number-  My pain can’t be given a number! I am either in a lot of pain and want pain medication or I am not and don’t need it. It’s really that simple! People with chronic pain have a higher tolerance for pain because often times we have to and if I told you my real pain levels you probably wouldn’t believe me! Is my pain really that bad or am I just exaggerating because if it was as bad as I say it is how come I’m not in tears? Yes, it is people with chronic pain just learn to adapt with high pain levels so we can function.  If I go to the doctor and my pain is within a normal range I always lowball it because there is no cause for concern but if my pain is higher than normal I give a slightly higher number than it actually is because doctors sometimes lowball it and if I want answers that is the best way to get them.

Chronic pain is measured differently-When you live with chronic pain you can’t have a scale that stops at ten because chances are your pain will exceed that number at some point. If you tell your doctor your pain is beyond a ten and you aren’t balling your eyes your doctor probably won’t take you pain seriously because they won’t see how it can be that high. Chronic pain sufferers cannot have the same scale as someone who has occasional aches and pains because it’s not the same and chronic pain sufferers typically have a higher pain tolerance but we also have higher pain levels than someone who just experiences pain occasionally.

What can you do instead?- Sometimes giving pain a number can be difficult for some people especially those living with chronic pain because often times we don’t know how to rate it. People with chronic pain often times will have pain that is not a number on your pain scale. What should you do then? Ask your patients how they are feeling and if they are having more bad days then good ones then something has to change! Find out if they’re something you can do to reverse that because the main goal is to help people feel better right?

It’s good for kids-  Young kids and non-verbal disabled people experience pain just like the rest of us do but they just have a harder time expressing their pain to us because they can’t speak. That is when the pain method comes in! You can show your kids a couple of smiley faces and have them point to the one that shows how they are feeling. Then you will be able to effectively get them proper treatment so they can feel better.

This method works great for kids and non-verbal disabled people but is not a good scale for those living with pain. You have to understand that the chronic pain scale is very different from the regular pain scale so we rate our pain differently because we generally have higher pain than most people. If a chronic pain sufferer tells you there pain is an eight that may be good but for someone who doesn’t experience pain daily, that may not necessarily be a good number. An eight for someone who doesn’t experience pain often is usually not good but for someone living with chronic pain that may be a good day. I may not be able to control my pain but anything under a ten is a good day so I’ll take it! What do you think of the pain scale? I’d love to hear your thoughts please leave them in the comments below.

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