PlaySafe AT Home: Assessing Pain

A lot of athletes struggle to describe the pain that they are feeling. It is a difficult thing to describe, so here are a few things that may help. First, when asked to rate their pain on a scale from 0-10 many people don’t have a frame of reference. At the high school level, we are often dealing with athletes that it may be their first injury and it may be the worst pain they have ever felt. Here are a few ways to help figure out an accurate number to describe the pain:

No Pain

0 – Pain-free

Manageable Pain

1 – Pain is very mild, barely noticeable. Most of the time you don't think about it.

2 – Minor pain. Annoying and may have occasional stronger twinges.

3 – Pain is noticeable and distracting, however, you can get used to it and adapt.

Moderate Pain—Disrupts normal daily living activities

4 – Moderate pain. If you are deeply involved in an activity, it can be ignored for a period of time but is still distracting.

5 – Moderately strong pain. It can't be ignored for more than a few minutes, but you still can manage to work or participate in some social activities.

6 – Moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities. Difficulty concentrating.

Severe Pain—Disabling; debilitating, reduces daily quality of life, cannot live independently

7– Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships. Interferes with sleep.

8– Intense pain. Physical activity is severely limited. Conversing requires great effort.

9– Excruciating pain. Unable to converse. Crying out and/or moaning uncontrollably.

10– Unspeakable pain. Bedridden and possibly delirious. Mobility may be compromised.

For students who like or need visuals:

Now that we’ve got the pain scale down let talk about describing the type of pain. Most of the time athletes just need help coming up with different adjectives to use so here are a few.

  • Aching

  • Cramping

  • Gnawing

  • Heavy

  • Hot or burning

  • Sharp

  • Shooting

  • Sickening

  • Splitting

  • Stabbing

  • Tender

  • Throbbing

  • Numbness

  • Tingling, pins, and needles

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