On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your pain right now?

Warnings

  • Though this article provides information pertaining to describing pain, it should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your physician regarding the best way to treat your specific condition.

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Pain at the End of Life

Not everyone who is dying is in pain. But, if a person has pain at the end of life, there are ways to help. Experts believe it’s best to focus on making the person comfortable, without worrying about possible addiction or drug dependence. For more information, read Providing Comfort at the End of Life.

Acute Pain and Chronic Pain

There are two kinds of pain. Acute pain begins suddenly, lasts for a short time, and goes away as your body heals. You might feel acute pain after surgery or if you have a broken bone, infected tooth, or kidney stone.

Pain that lasts for 3 months or longer is called chronic pain. This pain often affects older people. For some people, chronic pain is caused by a health condition such as arthritis. It may also follow acute pain from an injury, surgery, or other health issue that has been treated, like post-herpetic neuralgia after shingles.

Living with any type of pain can be hard. It can cause many other problems. For instance, pain can:

  • Get in the way of your daily activities
  • Disturb your sleep and eating habits
  • Make it difficult to continue working
  • Be related to depression or anxiety
  • Keep you from spending time with friends and family

How to Use a Pain Scale

When a nurse asks you to rate your pain, be honest. Don’t exaggerate your pain. If you rate your pain as 10 out of 10 but are chatting happily on the phone with your spouse, you are probably not rating it effectively. The more accurately you describe your pain experience, the better your caregivers can help you control your pain.

Pain scales can also be an effective communication tool at home. Teach the scales to your family. Use a face scale to demonstrate the effects of your pain when talking to your children. Tell your spouse when you are a level eight, and show your children when you are at two ​​tears. Using numbers and faces can help you communicate an otherwise subjective experience to the people you love.​

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