Numbers on a scale: How bad did you say your pain was?

What is the level of your pain?
“It’s important to also include other aspects of pain such as quality, how it affects function (interference), how confident we are to deal with life despite the pain (self efficacy).”

EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

Numbers on a scale: How bad did you say your pain was?

Health professionals often ask people to summarise their pain experience into a form that (hopefully) we can all understand – but just what does a pain that’s around 4/10 on a VAS actually mean?

We know that pain is subjective, just like taste and colour.

While we might be able to agree that both of us are tasting something we call “banana”, we don’t know whether the banana taste I experience is the same as the banana taste you experience.

With pain, the situation is even more complex:

  1. we can’t determine whether the pain I feel is similar to the pain another person feels, and
  2. we don’t even have the benefit of similar “tissue damage”

So, we have to infer something about the experience through some sort of common mechanism. Mostly that’s language.

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