Know How to Measure Your Pain

It is impossible to measure pain objectively. There are so many different factors involved that it is impossible for you to compare the pain you get in your back with the pain your neighbour gets in her womb. It's quite impossible for you to compare the pains you get in your chest with the headaches which cripple your father.

But you can measure variations in a particular pain. You can tell whether or not a specific pain is getting better or worse. And that can be extremely useful: if you can tell how your pain is changing then you can judge the effectiveness of the different types of treatment that you may be trying.

Pain Control Programme prescription

  1. One of the simplest ways of measuring pain is to use an ordinary school ruler. The left-hand end of the ruler marks complete freedom from pain. The right-hand end of the ruler marks the worst pain that you can possibly imagine. Simply look carefully at the ruler and decide just where on that scale your pain should be measured. And then make a note of the reading you've taken. On subsequent occasions you simply look at your ruler again and make a fresh assessment. You can then measure whether your pain seems to be getting worse, getting better or staying the same.
  2. Another simple but effective technique is to record your pain level according to this simple chart:

    0 = no pain
    1 = mild pain
    2 = moderate pain
    3 = severe pain
    4 = intolerable pain

    At approximately the same time each day make a note of how you feel, recording your pain as 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, or 4.
  3. A more sophisticated technique is to look through the list of words which follow and pick out the four which you think describe your current pain most accurately.

    sore (1)
    dull (1)
    tender (1)
    annoying (1)
    troublesome (1)
    uncomfortable (1)
    tiring (2)
    hurting (2)
    heavy (2)
    distressing (2)
    miserable (2)
    sickening (2)
    exhausting (3)
    frightful (3)
    wretched (3)
    intense (3)
    horrible (3)
    punishing (3)
    terrifying (4)
    vicious (4)
    killing (4)
    unbearable (4)
    excruciating (4)
    intolerable (4)

    Add up the numbers that follow each of the words you have chosen. The total is your "pain score".

    On subsequent occasions simply look through the list again and repeat the procedure, comparing your total score with previous total scores.

Taken from Natural Pain Control by Vernon Coleman. Available as a paperback and a hard cover book.