910419 tn?1289483727

Personal pain scales

I was just reading GreyScale's post, and was struck by her rating child birth as an 8 or 9. This surprised me, although some of my friends have rated their pain as above giving birth to their kids. I actually have a 4 part scale that I use, so I'm curious as to what everybody's personal pain scale is and how they decide what number their pain is at.
My pain scales go  a little like this:

Pain: 0-10/10
0/10 - Heaven. The unachievable NO PAIN
1/10 - practically no pain, a paper cut would be a 1/10
2/10 - minimal pain - stubbed toe maybe?
3/10 - some pain, hitting your funny bone
4/10 - the pain is noticeable - my light arthritis in my wrist
5/10 - the pain *can* be ignored for short periods of time (this is a perfect minute for me when I'm a 5/10)
6/10 - the pain is always there, and is a good day (this used to be where I started to pass out, but I don't any more now that I'm medicated)
7/10 - the pain's starting to get bad
8/10 - the pain is bad, but I can minimally function
9/10 - pain's nearly intolerable, and I start disassociating
10/10 - unconscious from the pain

That's my main scale that I constantly adjust for the increasing pain. I know the MHNI 1-5/5 functionality scale and have heard of the Mankowski scale, although am not really familiar with it.

what scale/s do you use?
Best Answer
1301089 tn?1290666571
I like your scale.  Generally I just use good, getting worse, bad and wishing I would pass out.  I've had 3 kids and that pain remains the worst.

For those who are interested,  here's a link to the pain scales she mentioned.

10 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
910419 tn?1289483727
Thank you! I was just about to go looking for that post. :)  Are you a member of Daily_Migraine on LJ?
Helpful - 0
1301089 tn?1290666571
No I'm not.  I just looked up the scales you mentioned.  That is what I found.  Fortunately I don't get migraines.  My worst headaches are from the nerves in my neck.
Helpful - 0
910419 tn?1289483727
ah, ok. Interesting that it showed up in a search. :)
Helpful - 0
547368 tn?1440541785
Your pain scale is very interesting. Thank you for posting it.

Pain perception is highly individualized. What is a 5 to me, would not be a five to you, according to your scale. And my five would probably not be someone else's five.

GrayScale may have had very difficult childbirths, while other's like my aunt do not. My aunt said childbirth  was like having a large bowel movement. My 4'10" mother claims childbirth is by far the worst pain she has ever had and compares only to the quad heart by-pass she had 2 years ago. Her list of surgeries are long and include repair of spinal stenosis, hysterectomy, hip and knee replacements, all according to her less painful than childbirth.   .  

These scales were designed and developed to help medical professions understand their patients level of pain. When explained and understood accurately they can be an effective tool. Very often ppl develop their own pain scales which do not necessarily coincide with the medical professional scales. Some facilities even develop their own pain scales independent of the general one used by the majority of facilities. In my opinion this can confuse matters even more, especially if you are new to the facility.

I have placed in my journal the pain scale that I think is most accurate and easy to understand. It's similar to Dame's and many others. It's just my personal favorite. If interested here is the link to the journal entry:


What's most interesting and I am repeating myself, is an individual perception. I've had a ten once, when the little red sports car I was driving was struck head on by a loaded dump truck. That ten lasted for more than a few hours!! :)

I live between a 3 and an 8 on the scale I have in my journal, and between a 4 and 9 on your scale. Luckily nine's (my eight's) are not a daily occurrence and sometimes not even a weekly occurrence. I cannot remember a day less than a 2 since the dump truck and I did the tango.


Helpful - 0
1301089 tn?1290666571
Just a question.  When I go to the pmp the nurse always asks me to rate my pain.  I always ask before or after my Norco.  She almost always looks confused and we decide to go with after.  Just to make sure the pain meds are doing their job.

Do you rate your pain before or after meds?  Just wondering.
Helpful - 0
910419 tn?1289483727
Good question.

While I have an 11 medication cocktail daily protocol, I'm VERY short on abortives and painkillers for breakthrough pain. I am on NO daily painkillers, so it's only when the pain gets really bad (high 8+) that I take my tramadol dose. Tramadol works in an interesting way with me, it doesn't kill the pain, it just kills my ability to care about the pain, and thus lets me push my limits and act more functional.

So in answer to your question, I always do the 'before meds' number, as there basically isn't an 'after'.
Helpful - 0
356518 tn?1322263642
Most PM doctors will ask your pain level with and without your medications. If they do not clarify that this number your giving is without or with whatever the case may be. I suggest always giving the number that best describes your pain without your medications. This gives the doctor a better idea of your pain levels, but do explain that number is w/o your meds.
Helpful - 0
1311475 tn?1274198780
I love the way that you organized your pain scale,  If Doctor's  had a scale that referenced the numbers like yours is I think they would better understand the kind of pain that we are going though.  I don't like the scales at the clinics that go by the faces, because even though I have the worst possible pain imaginable, like it feels like I've broken my bones all over again, then add all of the other pains in my body to that, I can still push out a smile,  I have learned to fake it and try to be nice to people, I can even laugh, but inside I want to kill something the pain is so bad. After years of pain, you just learn that most people even your doctor doesn't give a crap, it's just another dollar in their pocket. unless you are very lucky and find a doctor that actually cares.
Helpful - 0
910419 tn?1289483727
thank you. It's kinda evolved over the years, and will probably continue to change as my disease progresses.

I find that the faces are good for kids up to about age 7. After that, the patient should be able to analyze different factors and start to come up with a scale of their own. My main frustration is when a patient exaggerates their pain in order to get more help/attention. I had a roommate when I was in the hospital that did that, and then confided to me that she was exaggerating. It bugged because it made the rest of us look bad.

I totally agree with you, I can force a smile 99% of the time. I've worked VERY hard to perfect a mask of health that I can wear at all times.

From what you said, it sounds like you've had some bad experiences with doctors. I hope that you can get lucky and find one that actually cares about you.

Helpful - 0
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Pain Management Community

Top Pain Answerers
Avatar universal
st. louis, MO
317787 tn?1473358451
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
Could it be something you ate? Lack of sleep? Here are 11 migraine triggers to look out for.
Find out if PRP therapy right for you.
Tips for preventing one of the most common types of knee injury.
Here are 10 ways to stop headaches before they start.
Tips and moves to ease backaches