HOME
pISSN 2005-9159
eISSN 2093-0569

Ahead of Print

Korean J Pain

Published online May 21, 2024

Copyright © The Korean Pain Society.

Beyond measurement: a deep dive into the commonly used pain scales for postoperative pain assessment

Seungeun Choi , Soo-Hyuk Yoon , Ho-Jin Lee

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to:Ho-Jin Lee
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03080, Korea
Tel: +82-2-2072-2467, Fax: +82-2-747-8363, E-mail: hjpainfree@snu.ac.kr

Received: February 22, 2024; Revised: March 17, 2024; Accepted: March 18, 2024

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This review explores the essential methodologies for effective postoperative pain management, focusing on the need for thorough pain assessment tools, as underscored in various existing guidelines. Herein, the strengths and weaknesses of commonly used pain scales for postoperative pain—the Visual Analog Scale, Numeric Rating Scale, Verbal Rating Scale, and Faces Pain Scale—are evaluated, highlighting the importance of selecting appropriate assessment tools based on factors influencing their effectiveness in surgical contexts. By emphasizing the need to comprehend the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for these scales in evaluating new analgesic interventions and monitoring pain trajectories over time, this review advocates recognizing the limitations of common pain scales to improve pain assessment strategies, ultimately enhancing postoperative pain management. Finally, five recommendations for pain assessment in research on postoperative pain are provided: first, selecting an appropriate pain scale tailored to the patient group, considering the strengths and weaknesses of each scale; second, simultaneously assessing the intensity of postoperative pain at rest and during movement; third, conducting evaluations at specific time points and monitoring trends over time; fourth, extending the focus beyond the intensity of postoperative pain to include its impact on postoperative functional recovery; and lastly, interpreting the findings while considering the MCID, ensuring that it is clinically significant for the chosen pain scale. These recommendations broaden our understanding of postoperative pain and provide insights that contribute to more effective pain management strategies, thereby enhancing patient care outcomes.

Keywords: Pain Measurement, Pain, Postoperative, Perioperative Care, Postoperative Care, Postoperative Period, Visual Analog Scale