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There was and still is a pain chart in most doctor’s offices I’ve visited. I was annoyed with those pain charts fifteen years ago because they were so impossible to interpret. The doctor asks a seemingly simple question, “How much pain are you feeling on a scale of one to ten?” That was an impossible question to answer because the terms, one thru ten, are undefined and thus meaningless. The patient must define the terms themselves and place their pain on that scale. The doctor hasn’t a clue as to how the patient has created their mental chart. Sometimes those totally meaningless questions were helped in an almost meaningless way with a cartoon chart of faces showing various expressions of pain.

My response was to create a meaningful chart for my own use, which I cleaned up a bit and posted on April 13, 2006. That chart has gotten few page views, but when I Googled it with “pain scale” and clicked on the “images,” behold an improvement.

Pain Scales for human pain.

The current Pain Scales doctors use for measuring your pain.

Half of the old black and white faces have been replaced with color coded ones, and the second row, second one does have a bit of description, and the third row first chart does have some descriptive help but it’s for musical intonation. The third row far right finally begins to have some helpful discussion. It is apparently sponsored by Prudential. Google places things according to unknown algorithms of public interest, and these top twelve charts are based on Google ads.

Probaway Pain Scale

Pain Scale – For measuring intensity of human pain – click to enlarge

My chart, posted ten years ago, is the fourth row first chart on left. It is filled with detailed information of how to identify the level of pain in one’s own body, and how to observe it in other people and animals too. It has defined symptoms of the level of pain reported by the sufferer, typically externally observed behavior, things to check for at a given level of pain, counseling to help deal with a level of pain, drug options for a level of pain, pain reductions, and risks associated with medications. Over to the left side are suggested labels for identifying levels of pain.

More of my thoughts and observations on pain. Pain informs you what is dangerous for you to do, not what you shouldn’t do, but that it may hurt.


Justin O. Schmidt, a biologist at the Southwest Biological Institute, has a fine site on painful insect stings.

One of my friends back in Berkeley told me that if you wanted to get the good drugs you put a sad grimace on your face when in the doctor’s office. When you are asked say you are feeling much better at the moment, but couldn’t do anything the whole week, could hardly walk, and haven’t slept well in a long time. That was his advice for gaming the system, which from his point of view was a good thing because it advanced his goal in life which was to be as high as possible as much as possible.

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