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Let’s Talk Pain

Visits to doctors or hospitals often involve questions about pain. You’re usually asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the worst kind of pain imaginable. But many medical professionals have indicated such methods of pain evaluation are ineffective and would like to try something different.

Pain can’t be given a number that corresponds to a specific treatment. Pain exists on a continuum, and so should the treatment of it. Also, pain is subjective. So, the same degree of pain might be labeled by one person as a 5 and by another as an 8, which creates vastly different treatments for what is actually the same amount of pain.

If you are not completely honest with the medical professionals treating you, you might receive too much or too little pain medication, and that could mean excessive and unnecessary discomfort.

Doctors interested in a different approach have started asking their patients how pain affects their day-to-day activities, rather than explain pain with a number. If even the simplest of activities cause pain, doctors can tell the pain is severe and warrants heavier doses of medication. Describe your day, and indicate which activities you can and cannot perform and, if you do them, which ones cause you pain.