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Understanding How Pain Scales Work

Everyone knows what pain feels like. Sometimes we wish we didn’t know so well, but it’s a fact that millions of people live with differing levels of physical discomfort every day. Some are lucky enough to get treatment to ease the suffering while others simply endure and hope for the relief that time provides.

In addition to understanding the sensation, it’s important to know how the medical community measures pain in individuals who show up in clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals. The big challenge for doctors is knowing how severe a person’s discomfort is. There are no machines or appliances that can accurately rate how bad a person feels, so healthcare professionals have to rely on what a patient says. That’s a tricky business, and it’s what led the scientific community to develop various scales that can at least rank the amount of unease in a human body. Here’s a summary of what everyone should know about these methods of measuring painful bodily sensations.

Why Scales Are Used

It’s vital for doctors and nurses to understand how you feel, what parts of your body hurt and why you are seeking medical help. If you have a migraine headache, for example, the amount of discomfort you’re feeling will determine what type of treatment or medication the doctor prescribes.

Types of Scales

If you report painful muscle spasms, for instance, to your doctor, he might ask you to look at a chart that includes short descriptions of painfulness, ranked from one through ten. Most people have seen these charts and know how to use them. But some don’t use numbers at all and they use words that describe severity levels from “I feel fine,” to “It hurts somewhat,” to “It hurts extremely badly.” These linguistic scales are preferred by many professionals who believe that using real words is a better way to understand a patient’s unease.


One problem with numeric ratings for subjective feelings is inaccuracy. What might be “extreme” for one person is just “moderate” for another. Just think about how two different people describe the same events. No two explanations are alike because no two human minds are exactly alike. But despite the drawbacks, discomfort scales are a useful tool and continue to be a help to doctors, nurses and all members of the healing profession.

Pain Management

One of the first things to do when you are suffering any painful sensations is to contact a doctor. In addition to massage, various traditional medicines and other treatment approaches, you can get your medical marijuana card online and then purchase cannabis at a dispensary. In New York, for example, thousands of sufferers who can’t take, or don’t want to take, pharmaceutical drugs, obtain their medical marijuana cards online and find fast relief. The point is to treat your discomfort as soon as you can visit a doctor and find out the root cause of the ailment. For many people, cannabis is an effective alternative that is easy to obtain at a relatively low cost per dose.

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