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The Creative Pain Scale You Need to See If You're Tired of Rating Your Pain From 1 to 10

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Have you ever been asked to “rate your pain” on a scale from one to 10? As a chronic pain patient, this is a question I hear all the time. The problem is, pain is so personal. And while most chronic pain warriors can relate to varying levels of high pain, we all have very individual reactions to it, making it pretty hard to rate on a scale.

Last week, Instagram user @together_in_pain posted an image of a new kind of pain scale that might help you if you’ve ever struggled to rate your pain. In the image (which you can see below), there are 12 “rankings” that depict different feelings of pain like “icy cold,” “sharp spasm,” “tingling” pain and “burning” pain.

I love the way this scale shows pain with a visual aid and a description. Pain is complex and a chart like this one allows us to point to a range of painful experiences.

Stabbing, piercing, pinching, tingling, burning, pins and needles… these are the immediate responses I gave when looking at the chart. I didn’t need to take a moment to try and work out my response to the “rate your pain from one to 10” question. This visual and descriptive chart, more easily, captured the essence and complexity of pain for me.

The reality is, we all respond to chronic pain differently. A rating of “five” for one person could mean something very different for another person. Some people with chronic pain withdraw due to pain. Some cry, some laugh, some are silent, some talk about it, write about it, some sleep, some can’t sleep, some eat, some can’t eat.

One thing we all seem to have in common is the difficulty explaining how our pain feels. Often people say it’s 20/20 because their pain is so severe. The one to 10 pain chart simply doesn’t reflect the agony being experienced by the person with chronic pain.

I’m currently in an extreme pain cycle — and that’s a civilized way of putting it. My rare bone disease is progressing and my entire skeleton seems to be under attack. My lumbar spine is collapsing into my spinal cord, causing severe spinal stenosis and I can’t weight bear at all at the moment.

I have a non-union broken femur due to my rare disease and my feet have constant non healing fractures. Put plainly, I hurt! My pain is off any chart everyday. I like to talk or write about my pain. Instagram user @together_in_pain’s pain scale is another tool that helps me explain the pain in my body and put it into words.

Living with pain can be like walking through a battlefield. You try and move forward, cowering and wondering where the enemy is and where the next attack will be coming from. But like soldiers, we learn to fight another day.

Everyone’s battle is different, but every battle story is so inspiring and encouraging. Muse upon your own story and look at what you have achieved despite your pain, with your pain, through your pain. You’ll be amazed to see just how strong you really are!

Header image via @together_in_pain Instagram

Originally published: April 30, 2020
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