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.


One thing I like about taking my daughter to Children’s is that at the end of the appointment we’re handed a piece of paper summarizing what we’ve been told.

It’s a bit frustrating, though, to look back at the paper to discover that what seemed to make perfect sense at the time, now isn’t quite as clear.  Three weeks ago, “Call if the pain gets worse,” seemed pretty straightforward.  Now it’s not.

Worse than what?

  • Worse than it was at that appointment?
  • Worse than before starting a daily rx NSAID?
  • Worse than it was before starting PT?
  • Worse than usual but not as bad as it sometimes gets?
  • Always worse, or sometimes worse?

This is so *$%& frustrating!

This morning my daughter took her usual NSAID, then added 1000mg of acetaminophen and tossed a couple rice bags in the microwave so she could put some heat on her hips.  The pain is bad enough that she cancelled her horseback riding lesson.

I don’t know if this qualifies as being worth a phone call to the doctor.  The pain is definitely worse than it was at her last appointment.  She’s back to where she was before starting the NSAID – but she’s not vomiting from the pain.

To call or not to call.  That is the question.

For now, I’m going to wait.  I have a prescription for a different NSAID, so we’ll see if switching makes a difference.  I doubt it, but we’ll try the obvious things, first.  She’ll resume the PT exercises that she’d been told she could discontinue; maybe that will help.  Heat definitely lessens the pain.

And next time I’ll try to view those instructions through my crystal ball.