I am asking for some help from anyone that has just a few minutes of free time. I promise it is for a really good cause. I am working on building one or possibly two new pain descriptor tools to help facilitate better understand in discussions between persons suffering in physical pain and their doctors, loved ones, friends, or even strangers. The most widespread 1–10 system is completely inadequate to the task especially when persons suffering from severe and/or chronic severe pain are trying to convey how they feel to “normals.” No offense at all intended in the term as normals represent the vast majority of persons. Normals understand pain in terms of headaches that “hurt” or “really hurt” but only last an hour or two or maybe even migraines that might last much longer but still typically l<day and might be described as “severe” or “intense”. Some normals may fracture a collar bone and describe it “the most painful thing they have ever felt”, similar descriptions of the pain of gunshot wounds exist. While there can be no doubt these are painful things the pain ebbs away quickly and is quickly forgotten. In any event for the vast majority of people there experiences with pain are few and brief and that’s a great thing. I recognize there are a number of women who suffer greatly from menstruation/ovulation pain for several days every month with a huge variety of medical causes. They have not typically been classified into the severe chronic pain category but that is certainly debatable. Labels don’t matter for this project if you are familiar with pain I need your help.
However there also exists a small subset of persons suffering from a variety of diseases and conditions for whom high intensity pain is a constant companion. These people are usually lumped into the chronic severe pain category. For the past two years I have struggled mightily to accurately convey to other people, mostly other normals, how I am feeling, how much pain I am actually in at any given moment. These are for the most part good, caring, decent, empathic people, like my doctors or even my mom and dad. It seems though that no matter what tactic I employed I always failed badly. There are so many examples of failures in pain communication that most chronic severe pain sufferers have heard as a response after attempting to share how they feel. Some examples: you should try stretching/yoga, have you ever thought about acupuncture, I hear (insert herb/extract/vitamin) works wonders for pain, and the absolute worst, are you it isn’t just all in your head.
This project is not about calling out pain shamers (that is a topic for an entirely different project) but rather about what tools might help both normals and chronic pain sufferers better understand each other now.
I have proposed that a much more descriptive pain intensity/severity scale would be a good place to start. I feel the need is greatest in the chronic pain community so these terms are suggestions for a pain scale unique to the needs of the group. So for part I need your help ranking suggested descriptors and suggesting new ones. My goal is to end with a list of ten terms ranked from highest (most) pain to lowest (least) pain. Remember the objective is to convey more than just magnitude or severity but that something little extra that only a really great term can somehow convey. Some examples of what I am not looking for: Huge, Big, Massive (these term convey size/scale jut fine but that’s about it), Extreme, Supreme (anything used in pop culture bad bc it comes preloaded with associations). I think you get the idea. To kick it off here are some common ones and a few others in no particular order. some I really like others not so much. Also I think they work best for the most severe to be in active -ing form and then the form becomes less important. Remember terms at the lower end of the scale also are important.
Debilitating, Crippling, Incapacitating, Excruciating, Severe, Torturous, Apocalyptic, Cataclysmic, Unbearable
I wish there were more so clearly help is needed. Please give your suggestions in the comments. Don’t worry about rankings for now just terms. Also just bc the terms are intended for the severe chronic scale we need normals input too. Finally made up words are allowed and even encouraged. If the combination of two existing words seems like it works than suggest. If a certain combination of letters or sounds or whatever communicates pain it’s in. I almost forgot there is no English only requirement either however if using foreign words they must be in some way intelligible to English speakers and convey pain in some manner.