How can I make the score mean more?
Give your pain more than just a number. Being able to describe your pain will help your care team better understand how it may be impacting your daily activities. Consider the following:
- Does the pain come and go or is it always present?
- What makes it better?
- What makes it worse?
- What word best matches how it feels? Stinging, penetrating, dull, throbbing, achy, nagging, gnawing...
- Does the pain stay in one spot or does it travel to different parts of your body?
Just as important as pain scores is your functional status in response to the treatments or interventions you have already tried.
- Have you been able to walk farther?
- Is the pain less which allows you to do more for yourself (i.e. get dressed, go to the bathroom independently, brush your hair)
- Can you sit upright and working on your knitting (or other meaningful hobby)?
- Are you able to go to your local worship service (or other meaningful activity)?
What is the difference between acute vs chronic pain?
In general, healthcare providers divide pain into two categories - acute and chronic
Acute Pain: acute pain is temporary, related to the physical sensation of tissue damage. It can last a few seconds to a couple months, but generally subsides after normal healing occurs
Chronic Pain: Chronic pain lingers long beyond the time of normal healing, lasting from a few months to many years. It may range from mild to disabling and change frequently.
You may already have chronic pain and are now experiencing, acute pain. Your care team will ask you specific questions to help determine whether this pain is new (acute) or whether it is related to your chronic pain. Understanding how to use the pain scale and communicate your pain to your care team will help determine the best treatment options for you.