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Pain Levels

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,974

This is a subject that pops up at least a dozen times a day.

The origin of the modern day pain scale came in 1981 from a Children's Burn center to allow children to point to pictures of their pain levels.    That original chart has not changed much, but the use and abuse of it has over the years.    

One aspect of any pain scale is to identify the  (ADL) Activities of Daily Life.  The impact on a person's ADL should always coincide with their pain levels.  However, pain is very subjective. One persons pain level of 7 could be another persons pain level of 2 and the other way also.

Assuming we use the number scale, here is the official breakdown used by hospitals, doctors, nurses, practices and just about any medical center.

0                         No Impact to ADL
1-3  Mild             Little impact to ADL
4-6  Moderate   Some impacts to ADL
7-10 Severe      Unable to perform ADL

The important thing here is anytime a pain level starts to reach 7, you need to start thinking about getting to the emergency room and  you need to get someone to take you.
After a pain level of 9, you can no longer make decisions for yourself, can not drive, basically, can not take care of yourself.

So many people have a misconception about pain levels.  They believe the higher the pain level they state, that they will get more pain medications and/or attention from the medical field.
Most trained medical professionals can easily distinguish between pain levels 4-6 and 8-10.

Just this past week, I read member's comments were they had anywhere from a pain level 11 to 20+.   This is impossible in terms of the medical field.  However, I can understand that you may feel those high pain levels.

My recommendation in the future is to always be aware of pain levels and do not inflate them.  Keep them within the accepted scales.

Perhaps someday, there will be a real meter than can accurately identify a person's pain level

Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 


  • I always found that my doctors always ask "what is your pain level right now" and never want to hear about, or ask where and when your pain level changes. I am involved with a work comp claim and some of these doctors will also ask me what can't you do because of pain, to me that's a loaded question, my reply has always been, "I can do anything but I will pay for it in pain. 

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,974

    i just saw this one today:


    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • I have a chart on my wall at work so I can put a number to how I feel. Right now I run at a 4 being medicated. I feel decent, if I was a normal person, an OTC pain reliever may be of some use. With activity my pain gets worse as high as a 7. Some mornings I start out at that level. My pain doctors can usually get an idea of how I'm doing by how I walk into the office. 

    Diagnosis: Thoracic facet syndrome & cervical and thoracic radiculopathy from car accident trauma.
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