Psoriatic Arthritis and the Pain Scale

Have you been asked where you rate on the pain scale 0-10? Medical professionals use the visual acuity pain scale to measure pain. They also combine this tool with other tests to diagnose.

Patients rate themselves lower than actual pain

According to the National Library of Medicine, people who suffer from arthritic conditions and Fibromyalgia have a very hard time using the scale to describe their pain tolerance. The physicians state that most people rate their pain lower than it actually is. They play down the symptoms because they have moderate pain on a regular basis.1

I have found this to be absolutely true. I always feel dread when someone asks me how I rate my pain on the pain scale. I fully understand that the doctors are trying to help their patients, but at the same time, for someone who has pain constant, it's difficult to gauge the type and intensity.

It is difficult when you hold a pain scale in hand and try to match how you feel to it with only faces to judge from. Some of the professionals will ask you if you are in the worst pain you have ever been in and expect that to be the highest number, which is usually a ten. Others will tell you that a two to three is a little uncomfortable.

Learning and using pain scales in healthcare

When I was in medical school, professors explained that the scale should be used to match the patient's pain face to the scale. They also taught that if the pain is stopping the patient from performing a task, the pain scale should be past the halfway point.

For others, the pain causing issues by taking the patients breath away or they seem to be holding their breath could be between seven to ten. I mostly agree with this but do not necessarily understand why these questions are not actually on the scale. Of course this is just my opinion.

Doctors use the pain scale, range of motion, X-rays, MRI, and CT scans to make full diagnoses. These things paired up give the doctor the ability to make his best assessment of the situation.

Range of motion can tell the physician how far a limb or joint can be manipulated. That movement can give a hint to where swelling and soft tissue damage can be found.

X-rays are great starting points for swelling or broken bones. CT scans can give more of a clue inside the tissue or around swollen bones to missed fractures. MRI takes pictures of sections of an affected area and shows damage through the muscle, bruising, or skin. 

Chronic pain and psoriatic arthritis psychological effects

For chronic pain sufferers, depression and mental status weigh into the pain scale. People living with psoriatic arthritis discuss pain with doctors while addressing their thoughts of a feeling of doom.

It is easy to slide into a feeling of "Here we go again!" very easily. For most of us, pain is one of the steps of a major flare. Just hearing the word Flare makes me think of all the past events. 

Evaluating mental and physical health improves psoriatic arthritis sufferers' lives. Communication about physical and emotional health may help chronic pain patients manage and support themselves with more focused and effective options for treatment.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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