Level 1: You experience very minor pain in parts of your body. You don't have to take any pain medications and you can do your work with no problems.
Level 2: The minor pain has increased to dull aches in some parts of your body. You don't have to take medication and you still can work as usual.
Level 3: Your minor pain is strong enough to get your attention. You resort to Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications.
Level 4: The pain is getting stronger, you are taking more OTC medications but they don't last long. You begin to cut back on your activities in favor of just sitting down.
Level 5: You can't ignore this pain for more than an hour, even with OTC Medications. You cut back of all activities except the most important ones. Work is possible, but just barely.
Level 6: You simply can not ignore your pain for even a few minutes. Prescription pain medications provide you with limited functioning abilities.
Level 7: This level of pain is the kind that keeps you awake at night, makes it hard to think and act. Your prescription medication only dulls the pain for a short time. You limit your activities in order of importance. You really can't work well.
Level 8: This is serious pain. You don't want to do anything or be bothered by anyone. You have taken so much pain medication you are unable to fully concentrate on anything. Work is out of the question.
Level 9: Very serious pain here. You can not concentrate on anything but pain. You should not do business transactions or make any important decisions because of your limited mental state. You can not go to work and you shouldn't drive a car. At this point you begin withdrawing from the world around you.
Level 10: Pain has made you totally unable to function. You don't want to deal with or talk to anyone. Even with narcotic pain medications you are still in horrible pain. You go to bed or go to the emergency room for any help you can get.
I like this pain scale because I can say that my pain is “only a 3!” Those are the days that I wake up and go “Wow! I feel pretty good” in the way that people without chronic pain would go "I feel awful". It’s on those days that I try to do my errands and get as much housework done as I can without overdoing it. There’s a problem with having a Level 3 day. They are so few and far between that I tend to do as much as I possibly can because I don’t know when I’ll be a Level 3 again. Because of overdoing, a day that starts out a Level 3 can become a Level 6 by the end of the day.
My normal everyday pain level varies from Level 4 to a Level 8. I realize that is a wide range but Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Myofascial Pain can cause a wide range of pain. It’s unpredictable and uncontrollable. It can literally change in a 15 minute period. I’m sure as you read my posts over time there will be a day where you’ll see that change. It can change because I over do it or for no reason that I can figure out. It’s life with chronic pain. Throw the peripheral neuropathy in and well… this post is long enough but I’m sure we’ll talk about it soon. That’s just the way my life is.
It really helps my doctors to better understand what I am feeling. I have a copy to my pain doctor and he shared it with his other patients when they can't figure out what their pain level is. I hate those smiley/frowny face charts.
I really like that scale. It's always so hard to give a pain rating for me because it's a question of baseline. Three years ago what I feel today would have made it hard to get on with things, but now it's just an average day. I guess that's why it's important to have a medical team that knows you.
I always wonder how to answer my doctor when asked because I've had 7 babies and 4 were completely without any pain killers. Those were way past the #10 listed above so when I think about my pain, do I include that because I know what that feels like so my daily pain is nothing compared to those times. I'm trying to adjust my thinking but it's hard to when it's in your memories hard drive! So I still struggle.