What is Classed as Severe Pain?

What might be considered severe pain for one person may be much milder for another. We all have different pain thresholds so it can be hard to tell if the pain one is experiencing is mild, moderate, or severe. As no one else can feel your pain, they cannot tell you if what you are experiencing is severe. This is why things like pain scales exist. They make it easier for doctors to gauge how much pain a person is in.

What is a Pain Scale

A typical pain scale will allow you to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10. Patients are asked to rate their pain based on how it affects various aspects of their life such as sleep, work, mood, relationships, and leisure activities.

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1-3 on the pain scale is classed as mild pain, with 1 being so mild as to be barely noticeable. 2 is slightly more noticeable with stronger twinges whereas 3 is more noticeable and can be distracting, although not serious enough to have an impact on daily life.

4-6 is classed as moderate pain, with 4 being distracting although not enough to prevent you from working or taking part in activities. 5 is pain that cannot be ignored although you may still be able to work or engage in social activities. 6 is quite strong pain that is affecting concentration and the ability to work or do other daily activities.

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7-10 is classed as severe pain. 7 on the pain scale is strong pain that affects sleep and prevents daily activities. 8 is classed as intense pain that limits physical activity. It can have a severe impact on mood and concentration. 9 is excruciating pain that is so strong, it causes the person to cry or moan, while 10 is the worst possible pain that may be accompanied by delirium.

What Causes Severe Pain?

There are two main types of pain – acute and chronic. Acute pain is a direct and sudden response to an illness or injury and is typically short lived, while chronic pain is pain that continues for longer than 12 weeks. Nevertheless, chronic pain may also be related to an illness or injury.

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Severe pain is associated with various health conditions such as migraines, shingles, heart attack, bone fractures, arthritis, sciatica, cancer, kidney stones, endometriosis, adenomyosis, and appendicitis. It is also experienced by those giving birth.

How is Pain Evaluated?

The doctors at Utah-based pain clinic Kindly MD say that while the pain scale is a handy way for doctors to evaluate the severity of pain, there is more to consider when creating a treatment plan. For example, it is important to ask about what the pain is like. Doctor’s need to know if the pain is localized in one area or whether it is radiating to other parts of the body. It is also good to know if the pain gets better or worse in certain situations and if it is a stabbing pain or a dull ache.

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A good pain physician will ask patients to try to compare their current pain with the worst pain they have ever had in the past. For example, if they have given birth, broken a bone, or had kidney stones, they can say whether this pain is more or less severe.


Severe pain is a matter of perspective but using the pain scale will help doctors to figure out how much pain a person is in. Nevertheless, to effectively treat pain, it is important for doctors to know more about the pain, such as whether it is constant or comes and goes in bouts.

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