Assessing the Pain

May 23, 2016

Pain assessment is critical to optimal pain management interventions. While pain is a highly subjective experience, its management necessitates objective standards of care. Pain assessment for patients with muscle pain and arthritis is often done by using pain scales that allow the patient to describe the level of their pain. Once the level of pain is determined, an appropriate treatment or analgesic can be identified – including OTC topical medication.

womaninpainWhen determining the level of pain, it is important to provide answers to the following questions with your doctor including: what where you doing when the pain started?  What caused it?  What makes the pain better or worse? What does the pain feel like – dull, sharp, stabbing, burning, etc.?  Where is the pain located?  Does it radiate?  Doctors will seek to measure the severity of pain on a scale of zero to ten with zero being no pain and ten being the worst pain ever.  Does the pain interfere with activities?  Does the pain force you to lie or sit down?  How long does the pain last?  How long does the pain last?  How often does it occur?  Are you ever awakened by it?

There are several pain scales being used today, ranging from numerical to graphics. They each have unique properties – some specific to injury or pain, some are more extensive exams and others include emotional and physiological factors. While there are differences in each tool, the scales use mostly the same terminology and follow the exact same order for explaining severity of pain: mild, moderate, and severe.

Below is an example of a recognized pain scale:

painscale

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