Verbalising Pain

Measure and Compare

The patient’s perspective is crucial in ensuring that a pain treatment will be successful. No one knows what the pain is like as well as the afflicted person in question. Pain is a purely subjective feeling. Everyone perceives pain differently. Pain that one person can put up with may be hardly bearable for another person. In order for the physician to develop the right pain treatment for the patient, it is important for the patient to have as much information as possible about the pain and its circumstances. The manifestations of the pain, the time of their appearance and their frequency, duration and above all their intensity all play a role in the process. Which is why it is necessary to measure pain.

Measuring Pain – But How?

Pain is a subjective sensation and the physician cannot objectively record it using measurement instruments like he can with blood pressure, pulse and temperature. The patient's personal perception takes centre stage when measuring pain. But there are so-called “pain scales” which are used to make pain measurable and recognisable for the physician. They help determine the intensity of the pain. Patients can use this scale to classify their pain from “No pain” to “Maximum pain imaginable” by means of a sliding scale.

Documenting Pain

The success of a pain treatment is measured by the patient’s feeling of well-being. This depends on many factors: Are the medications taking effect? How are they being tolerated? During what daily activities does the pain appear or when does it disappear? The physician can find answers to these questions in a so-called “pain diary”. This diary is used for the patient to document his pain. The times when the pain appears and their intensity are recorded, as well as which medications are taken and when and whether noteworthy incidents took place. This enables the patient and doctor to optimise the pain treatment.