Fibromyalgia Action UK

Help please! NHS definition of each number on pain scale


I'm new to the group, had Fibro since I can remember (Rheumatologist thinks since I was 11 now 33) and first was a battle to be believed and get a diagnosis, which only came in 2011/2 (can't remember fog!) now a battle to sort med's given new research I've found on here. I want my old GP back he was brilliant, current one has just told me its depression & wants to put me on anti-depressants! (Not actually depressed right now). But anyway, back to the point of this post, might do an introductory post about what's going on with me later.

Hoping someone can help, I read a post but can't remember if here or over I the pain community (I'll post there too) and someone has posted a link to what the NHS mean by each number on the 1-10 pain scale & my GP is useless and seems to think I'm either making it all up or depressed so at least if I know what he expects from each number I may be able to drop my guard and 'public face' that unless you know me hides so well what's going on! so that he can see it is very much real.

Hope someone can direct me to the post.

Thanks in advance

6 Replies

There is a descriptor with what each number relates to in terms of pain. Perhaps look on NHS website or google it. I don't find it very useful as everybody has different pain thresholds and depending on when you last slept or ate and what pain relief you are on. Plus a broken arm might hurt like heck for a few days then less for a few weeks then be done.

Fibro can be brutally intense or it can be a low level annoying pain but day in and day out twenty four hours a day robbing you of sleep and sanity but low on the chart! Where does that help!

Best wishes

Patrick x



Sorry to hear that. Can you go to another in your practice, when I wasn't happy with a dr I'd just ask for an apt and make sure I didn't get the one I didn't like. I'd just say I couldn't make the day, no explanation.

As for the pain scale, I'm afraid I've never been asked that.

Good luck.

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Yes, I plan to try another dr in the practice, I used to have a great one who kept up to date on fibro and we would discuss all the various things I could try. I do yoga/Pilates, walk the dog and swim, as well as focusing on my breathing etc. I've just finished 8 sessions of group work from the persistent physical pain clinic but had to virtually breakdown before the dr mentioned it. My pain is now so bad I had my worst flare ever which lasted 3 months so was on long term sick from work and because I had missed so much before that too I've had my contract terminated due to ill health (although the union are helping me appeal for ill health retirement instead) - I don't blame my employers they have been fantastic with me and done everything that they could and had already let me go part time & my body can't even manage 6hrs a day 3 days a week even using flexi time!


Hi again

Do you think you're doing too much exercise?

I did that and refused to give in and pace myself, that's when I started loosing movement in parts of my body, also had the ambulance out as I was saying the same phrase over in a loop, with my eyes open. This lasted for over four hours and when I came too I didn't remember a think and was quite scared to see everyone around me and worried.

I saw a neurologist, who explained that when the body is in so much intense pain the brain cannot cope, it then stops things working as a safety valve.

I was told to do a bit have a rest do a bit rest etc, they call it pacing. They said not to fight it but to adapt. Maybe you're doing too much?

I had to stop swimming as I was doing too much, I've started again and do a quarter of what I used to do and use the jacuzzis and I feel much better for it.

I know you have good intentions of keeping fit and they say gentle exercise is good for you, maybe just cut back a little and see how you get on?

Good luck and best wishes. 👍😊

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Hi iPrincess,

Sorry to hear that you're in such a lot of pain, and hope that it will ease soon.

The Pain Scale that the Medics use is on a scale of 1 to 10. 10 being the worst pain that you have ever had, and going down to the lower numbers the pain is less severe.

Hope that helps.

GP. 😊😊

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Hi iPrincess,

Welcome to the forum and it is wonderful to make your acquaintance. I have pasted for you below an excerpt from the *Health Central website which defines the pain scale. I genuinely hope that this is what you wanted and I sincerely hope that you find this useful:

*Health Central


0 – Pain free.

Mild Pain – Nagging, annoying, but doesn't really interfere with daily living activities.

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 – Interferes significantly with 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 with effort 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; unable to perform daily living activities.

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. Very few people will ever experience this level of pain.

*Using the Pain Scale

If you want to be sure you and your doctor are speaking the same language, print out a copy of this pain scale and show or give it to your doctor so he knows exactly what you mean when you rate your pain.

Another common overstating mistake is smiling and conversing with the doctor, then stating that your pain level is a 10. If you are able to sit and carry on a normal conversation, your pain is not a 10... or even a 9. Actually, an 8 on the pain scale has been compared to natural childbirth. And as someone who gave birth to twins without an epidural or any medication, I can tell you that's some pretty serious pain!

Please understand that I'm not trying to minimize the severity of your pain. On the contrary, I'm trying to help you learn how to have your pain taken more seriously. Pain is subjective and there's no simple way to describe your pain to another person – even a doctor. The pain scale is certainly not ideal, but it's all we have right now. I hope these guidelines make using it a little easier.

I want to sincerely wish you all the best of luck, and please take care of yourself.

All my hopes and dreams for you


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