Pain Management: Measuring Pain


Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong inside your body. Sometimes pain is a nuisance, like a mild headache. At other times, such as after an operation, you may feel mild distress or severe discomfort.


Pain can be acute or chronic. Acute pain can be severe and last for a relatively short time. It is usually the result of injury, surgery, or medical illness. Acute pain often goes away with the healing process.


Chronic pain continues for longer periods of time. It may be mild to severe and sometimes continues despite the healing of the original injury. Treatments for acute and chronic pain can be quite different.


For pain management to work you need to have some way to help your doctors and nurses understand how much you are hurting. You will be asked to use a pain rating scale to do this. For example, on a scale of 0 to 10 – from no pain to the worst pain you can imagine – how much pain do you have right now?


You may set up a pain control goal, such as having no pain worse than number four on the scale. Reporting your pain as a number helps you and the healthcare team know how well your treatment is working and whether changes need to be made.