Is your pain a 3 a 5 a 7?? Do you know the difference?

This blog is a follow up to an earlier blog on prescribing opiates following surgery, and assuming pain during recovery.  For those of us who have had this surgical experience, we are used to the nurses who ask us almost each time they come into the room….’How is your pain? On a scale of 1-10, what would say it is?’  After my hip replacement, I had no idea what to say.  I had a nerve block and had almost no pain.  I had no idea what kind of pain I would experience once the nerve block wore off.  And based on this number, I would go home with……what?  I know they were searching for something to write in the charts, and I would have to tell the doctor if I wanted an opiate.  When I was vague about a number, I was questioned: ‘are you sure?’  I don’t know!  What kind of pain am I supposed to feel!  How was I to know what pain level 3 felt like from pain level 5 from pain level 7.  I figured 1 was no pain; and 10 was ‘just knock me out!!’  I found this article by the Cleveland Clinic that discusses pain levels, and even offers a very simple, somewhat silly but OH so helpful chart that each patient should be given to help address their level of pain.  We are getting there!  Sometimes too slowly.

Betty K Tonsing, Ph.D., CFRE, CLSS

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