The Value and Importance of Pain Scales

Source: WebMD, Mayo Clinic

Pain scales have been one of pain management's most reliable assessment tools for many decades. Pain is subjective; it is felt differently by everyone, and it is difficult to measure. Identifying the origin of chronic pain can also be challenging.

Why are pain scales used?

Consistently using a pain scale to monitor symptoms, emotions and sensations helps individuals explain the nature, severity and duration of their pain when communicating with health care providers. This aids in receiving the best possible treatment. Using a pain scale to communicate an individual’s pain level helps health care providers gauge how each person feels on an individual, case by case basis.

Pain scales are a relatively simple concept but are quite beneficial especially for those who have difficulty verbally expressing the extent of their pain. Examples include young children and those with cognitive impairments. In these instances, the pain scale used may have numbered faces, ranging from smiling to weeping.

Why are pain scales important?

Chronic pain is difficult to measure. The only person who truly understands the intensity of their pain is the person experiencing it. Another aspect making it difficult to measure is what one person considers painful another may not. This is why pain scales are valuable tools to help assess an individual’s pain levels.