0 to 10: How do you describe your pain? Pt 2.

pt HealthAnkle pain, Back pain, Foot pain, Pain, Pain Relief, Shoulder pain


Being able to describe what you’re feeling accurately is the first step to advocating on your behalf and getting the help you need. In the first part of this series, we talk about chronic vs acute pain. Today we’ll go over the 0 to 10 pain measurement scale, what the numbers mean and how it can play a role in improving care.

Tools to Help You Describe Pain

Not all pain is the same, the dull throb of a toothache is considerably different than the sharp pain of snapping your ACL. But did you know that describing your pain more accurately can lead to better rehabilitation outcomes? We hope this easy to use guide will help improve communications with your healthcare provider.

Pain Intensity and the 10 Point Pain Scale

A common way to describe pain uses a 10 point pain measurement scale like the one below. Many physiotherapists and other healthcare practitioners use this scale to judge the intensity of your pain and to track your progress through treatment.

Illustration of the 10 point pain measurement scale

0 is pain-free

At 0 you feel no pain at all.

1 – 3 is Mild and Manageable Pain

Manageable pain ranges from barely noticeable pain at 1 to distracting pain at 3. In this pain range, you’re able to adapt and continue your daily functions and activities.

4 – 6 is Moderate to Severe Pain

Moderate pain begins to impact your daily functions and is sometimes hard to ignore. At a pain level of 4, your pain is distracting, but you’re still able to focus on tasks while at a level 6 the pain makes it difficult to concentrate on tasks.

7 – 9 is Severe Debilitating Pain

Severe pain makes it difficult or nearly impossible to complete day to day activities, or even live independently. A pain level of 7 makes it hard to sleep, maintain relationships and do regular daily activities, while a 9 is deemed excruciating pain that makes it difficult even to speak.

10 is Unspeakable Pain

10 is the highest level of pain on the scale is the worst pain imaginable. At a level 10 you may be delirious, be unable to move or speak, and most likely bedridden.

Pain Management with Physiotherapy

If you’re experiencing pain, find a clinic near you and book an appointment with a qualified physiotherapist to get a full assessment and treatment plan in place– no doctor referral needed! But, a doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance.

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