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The Problem With Pain Ratings

The Problem With Pain Ratings

Managing your pain isn’t as simple as knowing how “intense” your pain is. Certainly understanding pain intensity matters – but it’s also important to understand how your pain affects your mobility, your mental health, your job, and your family. That’s why pain management specialists do a lot more than just ask you to rate your pain level on a scale of 0 to 10.

A numeric pain rating scale may be helpful in some situations, but as many pain doctors and people with chronic pain understand, the problem with pain ratings is they’re not a sufficient stand-alone tool to truly manage pain and estimate its impact.

Understanding the Pain Scale Problem

Pain scales were originally designed to help researchers study pain scientifically. Pain is subjective, but assigning it a numeric value gives researchers “objective” data that can be tracked and measured. This approach may help researchers, but it doesn’t capture all of the aspects of chronic pain.

Pain can also change over time – sometimes from hour-to-hour. Asking patients to define their pain with a number could result in a plan of care that fails to address issues like breakthrough pain and pain-related sleep disturbances.

How Pain Management Specialists Ask About Pain

Pain management specialists have extensive training on how to get an accurate picture of a patient’s pain, as well as any factors that may be contributing to pain or interfering with recovery.

A pain management specialist may ask you to keep a detailed pain diary so you can track how your pain changes and fluctuates over time. He or she may also ask questions about how pain affects your job, daily life, ability to care for yourself and others, and your sleep quality. Your pain management doctor may even invite you to discuss how your unique cultural and personal experiences influence your beliefs about pain.

Based on your discussion, you and your doctor can then create an individualized plan of care that focuses on alleviating pain and improving overall health.

If you’re looking for an experienced Ohio pain management specialist who will listen to you and help you feel better, contact Integrated Pain Solutions at 614-383-6450 to schedule an initial consultation today.