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Pain Scale Chart - 1 to 10 Levels

  • Published: 2016-05-20 (Revised/Updated 2018-02-27) : Author: Disabled World : Contact:
  • Synopsis: Pain scale diagram and chart including explanation of each of the one to ten classified pain levels.

Pain is defined as a feeling triggered in the nervous system. Pain may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant.

Pain is mediated by specific nerve fibers that carry the pain impulses to the brain where their conscious appreciation may be modified by many factors.

Pain can be helpful in diagnosing a problem.

Without pain, you might seriously hurt yourself without knowing it, or you might not realize you have a medical problem that needs treatment. Once you take care of the problem, pain usually goes away. However, sometimes pain goes on for weeks, months or even years. This is called chronic pain. Sometimes chronic pain is due to an ongoing cause, such as cancer or arthritis.

Types of Pain Include:

Psychogenic Pain

Also called psychalgia or somatoform pain, is physical pain that is caused, increased, or prolonged by mental, emotional, or behavioral factors. Headache, back pain, or stomach pain are some of the most common types of psychogenic pain.

Phantom Pain

The sensation of pain from a limb or organ that has been lost or from which a person no longer receives physical signals. Phantom limb pain is an experience almost universally reported by amputees and quadriplegics. Phantom pain is a neuropathic pain.

Acute Pain

Pain that comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time. As opposed to chronic pain. Acute pain serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body.

Chronic Pain

Defined as pain that persists longer than the temporal course of natural healing, associated with a particular type of injury or disease process. Chronic pain impairs the ability to direct attention, in particular when compared to peers with low intensity or no chronic pain, people with high-intensity chronic pain have significantly reduced ability to perform attention-demanding tasks.

One of the hardest things about chronic pain is that only you know how bad the pain feels. There are no tests that reveal how much you are suffering. There is often no outward signs showing how much a person is in pain.

Pain Scale

A pain scale measures a persons pain intensity, and are based on self-report, observational (behavioral), or physiological data. Various pain scales are available for neonates, infants, children, adolescents, adults, seniors, and persons whose communication is impaired. Pain assessments are often regarded as "the 5th Vital Sign."

Universal pain screening is an increasingly common practice, largely because of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requirement that accredited hospitals and clinics must routinely assess all patients for pain. Pain screening is intended to improve the quality of pain management by systematically identifying patients with pain in clinical settings.

Pain Scale Table

The basic pain scale chart below provides some examples of the various levels that define the 0 to 10 pain scale.

Comparative 0 to 10 Pain Scale
Printable Pain Scale ChartAbout This Image: Printable Pain Scale Chart
No Pain

Pain Level 0
No Pain

No pain at all, you feel perfectly normal.

Minor Pain Levels

Minor pain levels generally do not interfere with most day to day activities. Able to adapt to pain psychologically and with medication or devices such as cushions.

Pain Level 1
Very Mild

Very light barely noticeable pain, like a mosquito bite or a poison ivy itch. Most of the time you never think about the pain.

Pain Level 2

Minor pain, like lightly pinching the fold of skin between the thumb and first finger with the other hand, using the fingernails. People can react differently to this self-test.

Pain Level 3

Very noticeable pain, like an accidental cut, a blow to the nose causing a bloody nose, or a doctor giving you an injection. The pain is not so strong that you cannot get used to it. Eventually, most of the time you don't notice the pain, as you have adapted to it.

Moderate Pain Levels

Moderate pain levels interfere with many daily activities. These pain levels usually require some lifestyle changes but you can remain independent, however, you are unable to adapt to the pain.

Pain Level 4

Strong, deep pain, like an average toothache, the initial pain from a bee sting, or minor trauma to part of the body, such as stubbing your toe real hard. So strong you notice the pain all the time and cannot completely adapt. This pain level can be simulated by pinching the fold of skin between the thumb and first finger with the other hand, using the fingernails, and squeezing real hard. Note how the simulated pain is initially piercing but becomes dull after that.

Pain Level 5
Very Distressing

Strong, deep, piercing pain, such as a sprained ankle when you stand on it wrong or mild back pain. Not only do you notice the pain all the time, you are now so preoccupied with managing it that you normal lifestyle is curtailed. Temporary personality disorders are frequent.

Pain Level 6
Intense Pain

Strong, deep, piercing pain so strong it seems to partially dominate your senses, causing you to think somewhat unclearly. At this point you begin to have trouble holding a job or maintaining normal social relationships. Comparable to a bad non-migraine headache combined with several bee stings, or a bad back pain

Severe Pain Levels

Severe pain levels mean you are unable to engage in your normal activities. The patient is considered disabled and unable to function independently.

Pain Level 7
Very Intense Pain

Same as 6 except the pain completely dominates your senses, causing you to think unclearly about half the time. At this point you are effectively disabled and frequently cannot live alone. Comparable to an average migraine headache.

Pain Level 8
Horrible Pain

Pain so intense you can no longer think clearly at all, and have often undergone severe personality change if the pain has been present for a long time. Suicide is frequently contemplated and sometimes tried. Comparable to childbirth or a real bad migraine headache.

Pain Level 9

Pain so intense you cannot tolerate it and demand pain killers or surgery, no matter what the side effects or risk. If this doesn't work, suicide is frequent since there is no more joy in life whatsoever. Comparable to throat cancer.

Pain Level 10
Unimaginable Pain

Pain so intense you will go unconscious shortly. Most people have never experienced this level of pain. Those who have suffered a severe accident, such as a crushed hand, and lost consciousness as a result of the pain and not blood loss, have experienced level 10.

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