PAIN ASSESSMENT – How to evaluate pain
Quantifying the intensity of pain is important for the initial and ongoing pain assessment. A number of pain scales are available for pain measurement. Pain measurement tools include simple one-dimensional scales or multidimensional questionnaires. Pain assessment should include both the time-frame and the clinical context of the pain.
The nature, intensity, duration, site, associated symptoms, associated illnesses, extent of functional limitation secondary to pain and social and personal repercussions should all be elicited.
The one-dimensional pain scales include:
- Verbal rating scale
- Numeric rating scale
- Visual analog scale—Typically 1-10
- Pictorial scale
Verbal rating scale is the simplest to use. It is just the description of the pain as none, mild, moderate and severe.
The multidimensional pain scales:
Multidimensional pain assessment tools are used to assess the location, quality and the effect of pain on mood and function. They take longer to administer than the one-dimensional scales and some patients who are cognitively impaired or poorly educated may find these difficult to complete. They are generally used for research purposes.
Some of the multidimensional pain scales are:
- McGill pain questionnaire
- The memorial pain assessment card
- The brief pain inventory