It’s time to replace the 0 to 10 pain intensity scale with a better measure

It’s time to replace the 0 to 10 pain intensity scale with a better measure

The pain intensity scale is ubiquitous, but how much does it really tell us about how pain impacts patients and how we should treat it? Experimental psychophysics investigations that examined the connection between the strength of noxious stimuli and pain experience gave rise to the 0-to-10 pain intensity scale that has become a common element of clinical care. This scale may have improved pain management in acute postoperative care in the days right after surgery. The scale was used in conjunction with the "titrate to effect" opioid dose strategy in palliative care and cancer pain management to aggressively target pain levels in very ill patients with dismal prognoses. Only after it was expanded to include the outpatient treatment of patients with chronic non-cancer pain did it start to substantially skew clinical pain management. Due to cancer's obvious cause in gradual tissue destruction and short time frame of onset, cancer pain management in the 1980s was simpler.

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