Assessing pain

?????????As pain is a subjective sensation, it can make treating people in pain challenging.

“We have no device to measure pain so we listen to whatever our patients tell us and avoid imposing our own views,” says Professor of Emergency Medicine Ian Rogers.

“We continually reassess peoples’ pain by asking what their level of pain is so we can adjust their treatment accordingly,” says Professor Rogers.

Medical practitioners use a tool known as a ‘pain scale’ to gauge the intensity of someone’s pain.

The ‘pain scale’ is a simple method for the patient to tell medical professionals their pain level on a scale from 0 to 10.

“0-4 measures mild pain, 4-7 indicates moderate pain, and over 7 is considered severe pain,” says Professor Rogers.

“The scale gives us the ability to track a patient’s response to treatment. If a patient’s pain level decreases from a ‘6’ to a ‘3’, we know we are successfully reducing their pain.”

Children’s pain is measured by a similar scale but with faces varying degrees of smiles and frowns.

Medical professionals can also assess pain in conjunction with the patient’s degree of functionality.

The Functional Activity Score (FAS) is the amount that a patient’s pain limits normal functioning – for example, walking after leg surgery, deep breathing and coughing after abdominal surgery or eating and drinking after ear, nose and throat or gastric surgery.

Anaesthetist and Pain Specialist Dr. Roger Tan says when there is severe limitation of function, an urgent review is required, as this may lead to complications like deep vein thrombosis and pneumonia.

“Inadequate pain relief may also lead to longer stays in hospital and more difficult rehabilitation,” says Dr Tan.

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