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Some thoughts on quantifying pain.......

No human being on earth is exempt from experiencing is as much a part of the human condition as eating or breathing.  But pain is a weird thing...for example the neuropathy experienced by a diabetic is not at all like post-operative pain, or childbirth.  Modern medicine seeks to quantify pain using one of several different pain scales in an attempt to determine severity and appropriate treatment.
But is this the right approach?

Some examples will help to illustrate my point here...

  • The most basic method used to measure pain is to ask the patient to rate their pain on a scale of 1-10.  Zero or one indicates little to no pain; a score of ten is really off the charts!  Many medical practices use this method for their patients.
  • The FACES scale is similar to the above, except that there are faces over the numbers to help those who might have a little trouble assigning a number to the intensity of their pain.  This is especially helpful when working with children or mentally impaired individuals. Here is an example of this kind of scale:
  • There are some methods of obtaining pain levels from unresponsive may think persons who are unresponsive do not feel, pain but this is not the case.  These methods involve careful observation of facial expressions, body movements, and vocalization by the nurse caring for such a patient, with input from any visitors that the patient may have.  One such scale is the FLACC scale, shown below:

These scales are all of benefit and my purpose here is not to be critical of them.  I just don't know that they tell us all that we need to know to help people in pain get some relief, or stay ahead of the pain they are experiencing.  Sometime in the future I hope to revisit this topic with some news on this topic!



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