03 June 2010

An Improved Pain Scale

I don't usually do this, but I am just going to copy & paste from another blog. To compensate, I am going to tell you that it is an AWESOME blog and you should all add it to your regular reads: Hyperbole and a Half.

Here is her take on the ubiquitous hospital pain scales:

You've probably seen some version of that chart before. You may also have noticed how inadequate it is at helping you. Based on the faces, this is my interpretation of the chart:

0: Haha! I'm not wearing any pants!

2: Awesome! Someone just offered me a free hot dog!

4: Huh. I never knew that about giraffes.

6: I'm sorry about your cat, but can we talk about something else now? I'm bored.

8: The ice cream I bought barely has any cookie dough chunks in it. This is not what I expected and I am disappointed.

10: You hurt my feelings and now I'm crying!

None of that is medically useful and it doesn't even have all the numbers, so I made a better one with all the numbers:

0: Hi. I am not experiencing any pain at all. I don't know why I'm even here.

1: I am completely unsure whether I am experiencing pain or itching or maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth.

2: I probably just need a Band Aid.

3: This is distressing. I don't want this to be happening to me at all.

4: My pain is not fucking around.

5: Why is this happening to me??

6: Ow. Okay, my pain is super legit now.

7: I see Jesus coming for me and I'm scared.

8: I am experiencing a disturbing amount of pain. I might actually be dying. Please help.

9: I am almost definitely dying.

10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.

11: Blood is going to explode out of my face at any moment.

Too Serious For Numbers: You probably have ebola. It appears that you may also be suffering from Stigmata and/or pinkeye.

I was tempted to point out that the pain scale only goes to Ten but it occurs to me that if you are in fact suffering from Stigmata then (and only then) you are entitled to a pain rating higher then ten


  1. The chart looks good up to 10... But 11 just looks like he's constipated and has a sunburn. Somehow it just doesn't belong between 10 and eyebleed.

  2. Oh, that's great. And thanks for the link. That blog is great and I can really use some funny right now.

  3. HAHA!
    Oh MAN! I was reading this during my lecture and started busting out in uncontrollable laughing! I couldn't even stop when my teacher shot me the look!

  4. As someone with central pain, the regular pain scale is even more of a joke than you can imagine, but the revised one has some potential for acute pain. I would suggest, though, that level 11 be changed to, "Afraid you'll die from the pain" and Beyond Numbers be described as, "Afraid you won't die from the pain".

    There's no way to quantify chronic pain without also factoring in the amount of time the pain has existed -- level 7 pain starts to feel like 10 plus when you've had to live with it 24/7 for years...

  5. thank you thank you. If I dared, I'd post it in our break room, but then I would have to find another break room post it in, if you know what I mean.....

  6. Chronic Pain Patient6/03/2010 9:01 PM

    Dude, that is awesome. I know I will never ever see it in any ER or PACU. The current pain scale is a joke.
    @HipCrip: your comment is spot on. Been there, done that.

  7. Thank you for this marvelous revision. I used it last week at my chiropractor's office. I was at 6, which on their pain scale looks like "I think I might have a bit of diarrhea coming on". Yours was far more useful.

  8. I think level 11 should read
    "I have become a zombie, one of the walking dead and will now proceed to eat your brains!"

  9. 8. I think I'm going to die of this pain.
    9. I know I'm going to died of this pain.
    10. I'm afraid I might not die of this pain.


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