Living with Chronic Pain

Using the Personal Impacts of Chronic Pain To Better Describe Pain Levels


It can be difficult for individuals with chronic pain to describe the severity of their pain. They are often asked to rate their pain on a scale from zero to 10. While this is a quick and easy way for health care providers to get a general idea about an individual’s pain levels, it does not provide important information about how the pain impacts their daily life, relationships and emotions.

When an individual shares detailed information about how chronic pain impacts their daily life, it provides their health care providers a more accurate account of their pain.

Questions to consider when explaining personal impacts of chronic pain include the following:

  • Are you able to work, go to school, take care of the home, or volunteer each day?
  • Are you able to participate in social activities?
  • Do you avoid activities you used to enjoy due to pain?
  • How often are you able to leave your home?
  • Are you able to complete daily self-care activities, such as taking a shower or preparing a meal?
  • How much time do you spend in bed as a result of the pain?
  • Are you able to focus on relaxing activities, such as reading a book or watching a movie?
  • Do you experience any feelings of anxiety or depression because of the pain?
  • Are you able to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends?

Answers to these questions can provide health care providers with a better understanding of an individual’s pain severity and the impacts pain has on their emotional well-being and overall quality of life. Sharing detailed information about how pain affects daily life helps to ensure effective pain management.

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