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How To Assess Pain

To care for someone and manage their pain it is critical for you to report the symptoms to the presiding physician, so that they can better comfort your loved one. Take a thorough approach to provide the doctor with the most accurate information.


  • TIP: Fever, infections, sore throats, and other symptoms can sometimes refer pain to other parts of the body.
  • Step 1: Insist the patient describe the pain. A sharp pain may mean something different from a dull pressure. If the pain erupts suddenly, a good physician might have an idea where to look next or what to eliminate.
  • Step 2: Keep a pain log to develop a history and pattern of potential triggers. By keeping track of the details you notice, you can help the doctor ease your loved one's pain.
  • FACT: The French philosopher Descartes described in 1664 a "pain pathway," and was the first to theorize how pain might travel from parts of body to the brain.
  • Step 3: Record symptoms by reading physical signs like grimaces, moans, agitation, or sudden recoils from touch.
  • Step 4: Locate the pain site, which will often be the same place in cases with a history of physical injury or problems. Still, pain might move to other spots and that will be important for the physician to know.
  • Step 5: Ask the patient to pick a number between one and 10 to rate the severity of their pain at the moment.
  • TIP: For children or adults who are unable to speak, the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale allows patients to point to a picture of a grimacing person to identify their pain level.
  • Step 6: Encourage the patient to communicate their acceptable level of pain to establish how much beyond it they are. Everyone can take a certain amount, and there's no need to drug someone who is still within their ability to cope.
  • Step 7: Get clues about what eases the pain and what provokes more. Maybe moving the patient slightly or protecting a sensitive area will ease the suffering for now.
  • Step 8: Nurse your patient and learn their threshold for pain management so that you can update the doctor and find ways to ease the discomfort of even comatose patients. Take note of their reactions, movements, and sounds to better inform the attending medical person.

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