The Pain Scale was instituted to try to make it easier for the medical community to gauge the actual pain levels in a more uniform way. It is especially hard for folks with Chronic Pain Disorders such as Fibromyalgia & Lupus to get it across just how much pain they (we) are in. There are numerous reasons why this has been so very difficult, from varying pain thresholds & tolerances to patients grading their pain differently on the scale. The scale is becoming a joke.
Here’s the thing: The scale is zero to ten. Of course zero means no pain at all. That we can all agree on. It is the ten, and the numbers in between, which are causing the problems. This is a soap box issue with me. Ten is ten. There is no eleven or fifteen or twenty-five. Ten therefor has to be the most pain humanly possible and still be alive. Ten has to be being burned to the worst degree and still be alive. Ten has to be lying in the desert with your legs blown off.. after the numbing effects of shock wear off. Ten has to be a pain so intense you cannot speak. You cannot scream. You can barely even think to yourself that you wish you could die. Ten has to be when a high dose of morphine merely brings the pain down to a level where you can scream… which would then be a nine. Everything else has to follow down from that.
But people cannot get this simple concept through their heads. They sit online and post to Facebook that their pain is currently a nine… or even an eleven. While typing on Facebook. From work. I want to reach through my monitor and slap those people. Those are the people who make doctors dismiss our pain, or at least assume it is way lower than we are telling them it is… because a lot of you are exaggerating. Horribly, grossly exaggerating. By doing so you are making it extremely difficult for the rest of us to be taken seriously.
Naming a number on the pain scale can be tricky in the three- to-five range. We do all have different pain tolerances and my three may very well be your four. This I get. This I agree with. I propose this solution:
Draw your own scale with your version of what each and every number represents to you and make your doctor keep that in your medical file.
That gives your doctor something solid to go on when you start flinging numbers around, and it does not step on my toes when naming my numbers since I will be doing the same with my doctor. Is this an ideal solution? Well no, no it isn’t. Ideal would be for everyone to get what Level Ten really means and to stop flinging ridiculous numbers around… To their status. On Facebook. While they’re at work. But creating your own version of the scale for assessment by your doctor will help him/her, you, and me to at least some small extent. But don’t ever forget: Ten is Ten. There is No Eleven. Deal?