Medicine: How to measure pain?

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Each one of us knows physical pain, i.e., pain in the body. When medical doctors are confronted with patients experiencing physical pain, they also face a problem: How to measure pain?
Pain is not measurable objectively. Therefore, patients routinely are asked to rate the severity of their pain on a 0-to-10 point numerical scale. This might sound too simple or even unwise to some listeners. However, this is a tried and tested method. It has been used for decades. It produces consistent results and reliable data.
In the year 2020, a new clinical study was published. It compared pain tolerability with pain severity in 663 patients with chronic pain.
The results:
No patients who had rated their pain severity as 1 to 3 (out of 10) reported their pain as “intolerable.” Only 1 in 5 patients who had rated their pain severity as 4 to 6 (out of 10) reported their pain as “intolerable.” Even the patients who had rated their pain severity as 7 to 10 (out of 10) reported their pain as “intolerable.”
The conclusion:
There is a mismatch between pain severity and pain tolerability. As a result, we could think about the following: Should a new pain measure be introduced, a pain measure that focuses on pain tolerability, instead of pain severity?
Focusing on pain tolerability might help patients to understand that treating pain severity to zero is not necessary and might help medical doctors not to overtreat pain.

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2021 07, Medicine, Text, How to measure pain, PDF, 141.6 kB Download

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