Is There Any Test To Prove That I Have Pain?

Dr. Carmen R. Green answers the question: 'Can A Test Prove That I Have Pain?'

ByCarmen R. Green, M.d., Director, Pain Research Division / Pain Medicine Research, University Of Michigan Health System
November 11, 2008, 3:27 PM

— -- Question: Is There Any Test To Prove That I Have Pain?

Answer: There are no absolute tests to show that you have pain. We have no, for lack of a better word, pain-o-meter. Pain really becomes what the patient says.

And we think about what the patient reports their pain scores, most commonly on a zero to ten scale, with zero being no pain, ten being the worst pain imaginable. We talk about how pain impacts someone's life. What things can you do? What things can't you do? How does it impact your sleep? How does it impact your work life? How does it impact your family life?

So, those are types of things that we will sort of bring into full picture when we're sort of assessing a patient with pain. So the key thing is pain is really what the patient says it is.

Now, from there, a pain physician will work towards getting you back to the best health possible for you. And that may mean that for a patient who reports their pain score as eight, we may work towards getting a pain score of three if that's where a patient says, "Gosh, that's where I'd be comfortable, I could live my life, I could enjoy spending time with my family."

The other thing is that sometimes we talked about the pain that X-rays being normal. But there are other times when tests can actually be positive. And you can actually see differences on an X-ray, yet the patient doesn't report pain.

So we need to have more research that really focuses on how we can better assess pain and then physicians can better treat patients with pain.

Next: Can Damaged Nerves Be Seen On An X-Ray?

Previous: What If All The Tests Are Normal But I Still Have Pain?

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