A pain scale is a new tool that the doctors are using to access the intensity of pain. Usually, when you feel pain and you tell the doctor about it, it is not properly conveyed. Or you cannot explain it in a suitable way. It is problematic for your doctor to analyze how much pain you are suffering.
The new pain scale is a medical tool that is helpful in these situations. A person’s self-reported case of pain is analyzed on a pain scale. The help of a doctor or a technician does it.
Your family members may use the pain scale at the hospital, during a doctor’s visit at home, or at home. The most common time to use a pain scale is during physical activity or after a surgery.
The pain scale is used to understand the pain and certain factors related to pain. For example, it checks the duration, severity, and type of pain in a patient. The correct information of pain helps the doctor to make the accurate diagnosis.
Pain scale can be used on people of all ages. There is no restriction of use by age or gender. It is just a tool, which ensures the effectiveness of the treatment for a pain syndrome.
What are different types of pain scale?
There are two major categories that contain a number of pain scales in them. The categories are as follows.
Unidimensional pain scales
These types of pain scales are simple to use. It just rates the intensity of pain. They used graphical or verbal parameters to measure or mark the pain. Some of these unidimensional pain scales include the following.
Numeric rating scale (NRS)
This type of pain scale is widely used for its simplicity. A person can check his pain by using a numeric rating scale of 0 to 10 or 0 to 5. O is the minimum level and 5 or 10 are the maximum levels. Zero indicates no pain and 5 or 10 indicate maximum pain.
Any reading between these two extremes indicates the certain level of pain. These pain levels are assessed at the initial point of the treatment or before treatment. Eventually, they have measured again at the end of treatment to know the progress.
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Visual analog scale (VAS)
This specific type of pain scale shows a line on a paper, which is 10 cm in length. There are anchors at either end. One end shows no pain stage and the other end represents worst pain stage.
Anything between these two ends represents the intensity of pain. The doctor measures this line with a ruler and calculates a pain score. Based on this pain score, the intensity of pain is evaluated.
This type of pain scale gives people the simple ways by which they can check their pain intensity. It uses a verbal or visual descriptor, which represents the pain. The examples of this intensity representation are made by the words mild, discomforting, distressing and excruciating.
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If you are using the pain scales on children, the image based pain scales are the best to use. The child patient may be presented with a pain scale with different images on it, each one of which represents a certain stage of pain intensity.
The child chooses the face which they think is closely related to their pain level of that time.
Multidimensional tools for assessing pain are not that common. But many experts believe that they are very valuable for their precision. Some of the examples of this scale are as follows.
Initial pain assessment tool
This is a pain scale designed for an initial evaluation of pain. It helps the doctor to get the basic information from the patient, especially about the nature and type of their pain. The person expresses the pain but he may not always be right in explaining it.
The pain scale uses a paper diagram, which shows a human body. The patient is required to mark the location of the pain and a scale to rate the intensity. There is space for extra comments, just in case, the patient has more to tell.
Brief pain inventory (BPI)
It is a fast tool for people to use in the routine. It measures the pain intensity and how is it affecting the organs of the body. This tool has a number of questions, which are related to the pain felt in last 24 hours. It is easy to use but it is not very common to be used.
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McGill pain questionnaire (MPQ)
Talking about the most common multidimensional pain scales, this McGill pain questionnaire (MPQ) is the most popular one. As the name indicates, it is in a questionnaire form. There are many questions, which need to be answered by selecting the words that are used to describe the pain.
Are pain scales a reliable tool to use?
Journal of General Internal Medicine published a study on accuracy of the pain Numeric rating scale as a part of the primary care’s screening test. It tells that numeric rating scale has been a part of almost all primary care units.
This study was to check the accuracy of identification results among primary care patients. A total number of 275 patients participated in this study from 2005-2006. 22% of the patients reported the pain syndrome to be their concern for the medical visit.
The most common locations of pain were lower extremity (21%) and back/neck (18%). The testing scale was found to be modest accurate for the identification of the pain at primary care patients. Complete research results are available online for all readers. You can view it by clicking here.
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The final word
Pain scales can help to analyze the pain a person is suffering at the time of primary health service. All of these tools are helpful as they assist to collect the preliminary information regarding pain.
However, these tools can sometimes oversimplify the pain analyzing the process, which is a problem for accurate diagnosis.
Pain is sometimes multidimensional which means it has different properties affecting different parts of the body. Using a pain scale here may bring the exactly accurate results.
For this reason, multidimensional pain scales are the most popular and widely used pain scales when a doctor has to analyze a chronic long-term pain.