Handbook for Mortals : Controlling Pain : Types of pain : Severity of pain

Your doctor will ask how severe the pain is.

Pain is often described as none, moderate, severe, or excruciating. Pain can also be measured on various scales (including picking a number between zero, for none, and 10, for excruciating). You are the only one who can determine the severity of your pain. How much pain anyone else has in similar circumstances is not important in figuring out what you need. However, you might feel comfort knowing that others have been through similar experiences and have found ways to cope. You might find some people to talk with about severity of pain, medications, or activities that affect pain in order to share experiences - just don't expect that things will be the same for you.

People experience pain differently and need different doses of medicine to relieve pain. Using more or less medicine than someone else doesn't reflect on your character or ability to tolerate pain. While some people, including doctors, may express surprise at your medications, it is usually because they do not under-stand one of the most important rules of pain control: The right dose of pain medicine is the dose that relieves the pain.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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