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Can pain be measured objectively?

Pain cannot be assessed objectively. Doctors generally use a scale ranging from 0 (no pain) to 10 (maximum imaginable pain), or other numerical scales, visual or verbal, which require the patient to self-evaluate.

This supposes that the patient can express himself. The subjectivity is therefore total.

On the other hand, based on observation, another person can observe manifestations of pain in another, but this interpretation remains just as subjective.

In pain research, several “scales” have been developed in order to still try to “quantify” the feeling of pain in a person.

These scales are self-report scales that are sensitive, reproducible, reliable, and validated for both acute and chronic pain.

The most used scales are:

  • Visual Analog Scale (EVA) - Digital Scale (EN)

  • Scale of faces

EVA and EN

  • The EVA comes in the form of a 10 cm ruler graduated in mm.   The extremes of the ruler correspond to “absence of pain” (value 0) and “maximum imaginable pain” (value 10) The patient indicates his feelings on the ruler. Or by indicating a color (from green to red) or a number (from 0 to 10).

Scale of pain.JPG

Scale of faces

The face scale is based on the same principles. Instead of relying on a color or a number, we rely on a facial expression.

echelle de visages.png

These scales can be related to the patient's feelings and functioning.

The more pain one feels, the less one is able to function.

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