What is a Pain Scale?


The intensity and feeling of pain can be hard to communicate. This makes it hard for doctors to check whether pain treatments or medications are effective. To make it easier for a patient to communicate their pain intensity, doctors use pain scales. This article reveals useful information about pain scales.

Types of pain scales

Number Rating
In this scale, the patient has to rate his pain from zero to 10. Zero is the least pain, while 10 is the worst pain. Some hospital emergency wards use this scale to check if a patient needs immediate treatment.

In this scale, faces showing expressions are used to gauge pain. A smiling face means no pain. If your pain is really bad, you need to pick a crying face. This type of scale is great for children and adults with cognitive impairments.

Verbal Rating Scales

In this type of scale, the patient needs to use words and describe their pain. The patient has the scope to qualitatively describe their pain intensity in appropriate words.

Observer Scales
These scales are useful to gauge pain in patients who cannot communicate their experience effectively. These scales measure heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone and facial expression to gauge pain. Examples of observer scales are COMFORT scale, CRIES scale and FLACC scale.

Why Use Pain Scales?
Patients can convey if their pain is mild or severe. This helps doctors to choose the appropriate treatment. If you choose a lower pain rating after using a particular medicine, it shows that the medication has been effective. If there is no change, or your pain rating increases, the doctor will realize that he/she needs to try another medication.

Using Pain Scales
Some people exaggerate their pain by selecting higher ratings on the scale. They may do this to get quicker treatment in emergency wards. But, it is always better to be as accurate as possible while conveying your pain using a scale. This will help your caregivers decide the best treatment methods for you. You can also teach your family members, especially children, how to correctly use pain scales, so that they know what do if an emergency arises.

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