by Alan Jordan
Neck pain is one of the most common complaints we see at Broadgate Spine & Joint Clinic and we treat patients with varying levels of pain all the time.
So how do we measure the pain so we can accurately judge how much neck pain a patient is experiencing?
How We Measure Neck Pain
The medical research community has developed a number of tools that can be used to measure neck pain and the clinical effect of treatments. These instruments are used in clinical trials and we also use them here at Broadgate.
The visual analogue scale has been a commonly used tool for many years. It allows patients to place an X on the scale below at the point that they feel demonstrates their pain level.
While this scale has proved to be very reliable, doctors find it can be time consuming because they have to measure the point at which the X has been placed.
The 11-Point Box Scale
In recent years, newer scales have been developed and they are easier to use and more reliable too. The most common is the 11 point box scale, which allows the patient to place an X to represent their pain in one of the boxes below.
As you can imagine, this readily graded scale is far simpler for doctors to interpret, so it saves time and helps them to assess their patients’ pain reliably.
Patients who are experiencing ongoing pain can be asked more detailed questions, such as ‘What is your current level of pain?’ and ‘What is the average level of pain that you have experienced during the past 14 days’. The patient will be asked to place an X in one of the 11 boxes, which are again numbered 0-10 to represent the varying levels of pain.
This allows the doctor to have a clearer view of the neck pain that the patient is experiencing and while this instrument is very reliable, we are always looking for new and even more accurate ways to assess our patients’ symptoms.
That’s why Broadgate Spine & Joint Clinic is currently working on an electronic ‘welcoming’ system that includes important information, such as a pain scale, which allows us to plan care that is ideally suited to our patients.
For more information on how a clinician or doctor measure neck pain, click here.