Quantifying Pain

Wren has a post up, aptly titled Pain Scale Purgatory, responding to RA Warrior’s blog carnival (for which neither of us wrote a post).

Nobody likes having to guess what the 1-10 pain scale means.  What it means to one person isn’t necessarily what it means to anyone else, and people rarely ask for your frame of reference.  What if, since we’re already carrying around our meds list (you are  carrying your meds list, aren’t you?), we also carry around our own pain scale?  Here is my contribution:


  • 1-2 is tolerable
  • 3-4 I’ll think about taking a tylenol
  • 5-6 I’ll definitely take a tylenol, and maybe some ibuprofen, too
  • 7-8 there is definitely something wrong and I’m finding someone to drive me to the doctor
  • 9-10 someone is dialing 911

Wishing you many days of only mild pain.

The original faces pain scale was developed by Donna Wong and Connie Baker to help children communicate their pain level.  I have seen multiple variations throughout the internet and hadn’t realized that the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale has a copyright.  I’ve completely redrawn mine, and hope it’s not considered a copyright infringement.

5 thoughts on “Quantifying Pain

  1. If I was a good drawer my pain scale would be a doctors face with their neck in it. One the 1-2 I would be approaching the doctor with my hands out, 3-4 my hands would be on their neck, 5-6 I would be tightening my hands around their neck, 7-8 they would be turning blue, 9-10 they would be passed out on the floor and I would have my pain script in my hand 🙂 There…you now have Murphy’s law pain scale. Of course having ra I can barely raise my hands let alone keep them up to strangle someone…lol. But this pain scale is for the doctor to understand my pain level….right 🙂 Think they would get it now?

  2. Hi…Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski. With the help of young parents, I’m writing a book for teen parents… after serving them since the 70s (yes, I’m old, but teens do keep my mind young!). One of our young people discovered your blog and suggested we use your pain scale in the book. This gave me a teachable moment about intellectual property and the rights of creators to their own work. I don’t see a copyright on your scale, but I would never use it without your permisison. I’m writing to ask if you would allow me to copy the pain scale and put it in our workbook. We would give you credit if you like. Thanks so much.

    • I’ve seen various faces scales many places, and based mine off what I found numerous places around the internet. In doing some research to try to tell you where I found the original, the original appears to be the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale. I am working to revise mine so that there will not be any question of copyright issues. You are welcome to use my descriptions 🙂

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