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The Pain Scale and Your Chiropractor

By Randi Morse 

One of the most important things, when it comes to visiting the doctor, is to thoroughly explain the pain that you're in and how painful it truly is. Your chiropractor needs to know this information because it helps to diagnose the problem that you're having. There is a huge difference between a stabbing pain and a burning pain, and between a cramping pain and a sharp pain. The pain scale is designed to make it easier for patients to tell chiropractors what level of pain they're at, but far too often patients don't use it correctly. 

Types of Pain Scales 

There are a few different types of pain scales you'll see in any chiropractor office. The first, and one of the most common, is the 0-10 scale. With this scale, zero means that you are in absolutely no pain at all and 10 means that you're in the worst pain you've ever felt in your entire life. When you are first examined you will be asked what pain level you are currently at, and you may be asked this same question later in your visit. It's vitally important to make sure that you tell your physician exactly how you're feeling. Sometimes patients will say that their pain level is at a 4 when it's really at a 6. This may be because the patient wants to appear stoic or not appear weak. This, however, doesn't help your chiropractor at all. It's also important to not overstate the pain as well.  

Another scale you may see is called the categorical scale. It's usually a bunch of faces starting with a smiley face and traveling down to a crying face. This pain scale is much easier for children to use, but some adults prefer them as well. To use this scale correctly, simply point to the smiley face that showcases the amount of pain that you're currently feeling.  

More Thorough Description 

It's also important to make sure you tell your chiropractor what level pain you're at now as well as what the level the pain was at when it was the worst. Sometimes the pain starts sharp and at a level 8 but then drops down to a level 6. This may be a sign to your chiropractor that something specific is going on in your back and spinal column. Make sure you're extremely detailed with your description. For example, I once had an issue with my left shoulder. My chiropractor was trying to figure out what the problem was but the moment I told him that it felt like someone was grabbing underneath the bone, his eyes lit up and he knew exactly what the problem was. 

Don't be heroic when you visit your chiropractor, and don't try to make your pain sound worse than it actually is. By giving a thorough, accurate description of your pain and your pain level, your chiropractor will have a much easier time diagnosing your problems. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Gainesville, Ga.

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