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Quantifying Pain: The Oswestry Disability Index

There are many ways by which pain can be evaluated.  For instance, there are a couple of scales I discussed in an earlier post (Some Thoughts On Quantifying Pain). In this post I specifically discussed the 1-10 scale that is commonly used when people are able to verbally relate their pain to a caregiver or health care provider.  I also provided an example of the FACES scale, by which a nurse or other caregiver can assess pain by the expression on a person's face.  FLACC is the third example I shared in this post, which is primarily used when a patient is unresponsive but thought to be in pain.

The above examples are all useful in assessing acute pain--following an injury, during an acute illness, surgery, etc.  But they do not really apply to chronic pain patients because chronic pain can come and go or feel better or worse on any given day.  For chronic pain it's more appropriate for a health care team to use their own questionnaire to assess the kind of pain a patient has, how often they have it, noticeable patterns, sensations, etc.  The Oswestry Disability is a pain assessment of this type, and it's particularly useful for patients who have low back pain. This survey is currently considered the "gold standard" for evaluating the pain and disability when a patient suffers from low back pain.

The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is simply a questionnaire that a patient is given by a health care provider. It contains questions about pain intensity, ability to self-care, lifting, walking, sitting, standing, sleeping, sex life, social life, and travelling.  Based on the patient's responses a health care provider can objectively score the degree to which a person is impaired by chronic pain.  A recent study of over 1,500 patients affirmed that this index is a useful tool in evaluating not only back pain, but other forms of chronic pain as well!

Sources: Pain Medicine News; Wikipedia; Everyday Pain Management Ideas; MSU Rehab;Pixabay


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