Getting To Know Your Pain Scale
Any level of pain should not be considered normal.
Nobody wants to be in pain, right? Even still, so many people put up with pain and just accept it. Pain is not something to be accepted. We must learn to acknowledge it and then work to heal it.
When it comes to pain, what gets measured gets managed. Basically what we mean by this is that by observing and measuring your pain, you are paying attention to it, you are noticing it and are then on the right path for managing it.
It’s really common to know you have pain, obviously, but it’s less common to become actually aware of that pain in detail. Think about it. Have you ever found yourself saying “I’ve got pain in my shoulder, neck, headaches and it’s bad”, “bad pain”, “it was bad on Tuesday”, “bad on Wednesday”. Sound familiar? We want to combat this negative and pretty useless use of language.
You can probably see what we mean already, just from that sentence? It gives no quality information about the pain you are experiencing.
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Why use a pain scale?
Using a pain scale can really help you, and us understand your pain better. Think about what type of pain it is, what’s the quality of the pain. For example, the pain is sharp in my left shoulder, 6/10. This tells us so much more and gives you information too. Again, what gets measured, gets managed.
If you know exactly where on your scale you are one day, you can get a flavour for how the pain is growing and developing.
When you experience consistent pain it can become very easy to just see the big picture without looking into the details. When it is summarised as bad or awful all the time, it is hard to see outside of that. Yet, you probably had some time within that period where it was not as bad as it could’ve been, it was slightly better even. But, because you labelled it as “awful”, you don’t see these parts.
How to work out your pain scale
Now, we don’t really suggest getting a notepad out and writing down everything that is wrong as it can reinforce the pain model within your own consciousness. However, it can be a great way to get a rough flavour in terms of where you are on any one day in particular, or at a certain time of the day. This allows you to track it over a course of time.
Tread carefully with journaling, if you find yourself fixating on the pain even more, stop. We don’t want you monitoring every minute or every day, just when you notice a change would be more than enough help. It can be extremely helpful for you and for us as chiropractors to understand where you are on your pain scale and what differences there are throughout the week.
Making notes helps you measure the pain and notice if, how and when it changes. Is it better in the mornings? In the evenings? When is it better? What makes it better?
If you do notice that your pain is consistent, can you work out if that is down to something that you are doing, some other variable in the mix or is that your “normal”?
What is a normal level of pain?
Normal levels of pain should be at 0. Normal shouldn’t be any higher than 0. If you are experiencing consistent pain at a higher level, that is an indication that something is not quite 100% within your system.
There are lots of people that come in and say their pain has been 7/10 this week which is much higher than their “normal” of 5/10. “I’d dream to be at 5/10 pain”. This needs to stop. Again, 5/10 pain is not normal. The reason you might think it is is because you are basing your pain scale on someone else’s model of pain.
Pain is so subjective in nature, this is why it is important to unwrap and work out where on your scale you are experiencing pain. To reiterate, your normal should be 0/10, no pain. Your 0 is where you are getting on with things, you’re able to move around, to do things. If it’s higher, you’re telling me as a practitioner your pain is worse than normal.
If you do always have back pain, for example, that’s fine, label it as such. Just be sure to use your own personal scale to measure and deeply understand it yourself. It is much easier to explain and get across your pain when you understand it yourself.
But, what exactly is the pain scale?
When it comes to a pain scale, there are loads of different scales out there that explain what things should be like for you. On average we use a pain scale of 0-10. 0 would mean no pain, 1-3 usually means mild pain, 4-7 moderate pain and 8+ is considered severe pain.
Take a look at this article that explains each level of the pain scale in more detail.
It’s important to understand and figure it out. What does a 1 mean for you, what does a 2 mean? Where are you at any one time? Measuring and looking in a little more detail can give you that additional information that you need to get on top of it.
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