Ranking Pain Levels

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 906
   Posted 12/15/2009 4:16 PM (GMT -7)   
OK guys, How do you answer your Doc or therapist on the "On a scale from 1-10 how do you rank your pain today?" Usually my neck might be a 5, my hands an 8, my knees a 7, my hips a 9, my back a 2, etc.

Do you average them all out? Or maybe just give the highest score? I use my hands the most, so is that the pain scale I should give? Send in your answers.

Generally, I kind of average the pain sort of haphazardly. Not sure it's a good way.

Fibromyalgia since 1984, Sjogren's, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Auto-immune eczema, GERD, osteoarthritis, IBS, RLS, sleep apnea

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 12/15/2009 4:51 PM (GMT -7)   
I usually describe how the pain is affecting me then I add a number. For example: My pain is distracting me and making it difficult for me to concentrate. I don't want to move because changing positions makes it worse for a few minutes. It's worse than when I had the flu but not as bad as the day after my hernia repair. I'll call it a six (or seven, or whatever).

If you are going to average it, I'd suggest saying something like "most of me is a 5 but my hips are a nine." A doctor may not feel a need to treat a 5 but should definitely treat a 9.

I don't like giving a number without an explanation because your 4 may be my 7. I changed my mind about what a ten feels like after I had my first hernia repaired. I had never imagined pain like that before and finally understood what it really means to pass out from the pain. My old ten is now my 8.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 104
   Posted 12/15/2009 5:40 PM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Dagger. When my doctor asks me that question, I usually give a number for my aches (maybe a 5) then a number for my worse pain (maybe an 8) and also tell where that worse pain is. I also tell her what my pain was before any meds I took for it, and then what the number was after the meds. I know it sounds like alot, but a number really doesn't tell how you're feeling so I tailor my answer to give as much info as possible while still using the pain scale. I also agree that different people feel different ways on the pain scale. They always say 10 being the worst pain you've ever felt. Well, some people have had alot worse pain than others so it's really relative. I like Daggers idea of describing how the pain is affecting you when giving your pain number. I'm going to have to start using that myself! Thanks Dagger!

I hope others join in and give their own opinions on this! Good luck!

Fibromyalgia Dx November 20, 2009

Pain issues: Pain in neck and upper/lower back, chest/ribcage pain, Degenerative joint disease in both knees, migraine headaches, very painful menstrual cramping, pelvic pain.

Meds: Neurontin 300mg.

No more pain meds for me until the PM doctor accepts me. Who knows how long that will be!

Tammy <3

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 4796
   Posted 12/15/2009 5:51 PM (GMT -7)   
I see my rheumy quite often, every 6-8 weeks. I have multiple health issues so when
describing pain levels I also describe how the pain is affecting me. My rheumy has the
benefit of working off my lab results because I get extensive bloodwork done every
six weeks.
I can recognize my Fibro pain from the pain that comes from my MCTD. My rheumy
doesn't ask me to rank my pain using numbers. He does know that my pain levels
are constantly changing. I think it is important to note whether your pain is sharp,
dull, aching or migratory or whether it is more frequent or progressive.
Somedays we can handle more pain than others and if you have lived with it for
awhile you might adapt to it or found a med that has helped.
MCTD, Fibromyalgia, Raynauds, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Degenerative 
 Disc Disease, Hypertension, Migraines and Pseudothrombocytopenia MEDS: Methotrexate, Savella,Flexeril,Diltiazem, Boniva, Vitamins 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 846
   Posted 12/17/2009 8:58 AM (GMT -7)   
Dagger, wonderful advice that you gave out! I have such a hard time with the pain scale. What bothers me the most and really disrupts my day is the aching. But on a pain scale, I can't rank it high b/c it doesn't really hurt, if that makes sense? Pain I have is usually short lasting, or I can help with heat or stretching... whatever. Or I can even ignore it, b/c it's localized. So aching hurts less than pain, but bothers me more. My pain threshold has also gone up since I had that crazy face pain. That, and I am more used to the stupid, mindless fibro pain, so I wouldn't rank it as high as when I first felt that way.
fibromyalgia and possible trigeminal neuralgia
50 mgs amitriptyline daily, T3s for facial pain (really not appropriate med) and now tramacet

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