EMS Tips Uncategorized

OPQRST: A Mnemonic for Pain Assessment

A reader asked, “What is OPQRST?” 

OPQRST is mneomic for pain assessment.

Onset – Did the pain start suddenly or gradually get worse and worse?

Provokes/Palliates – Does anything make the pain better or worse?

Quality – What does the pain feel like?

Radiates – Point to where it hurts the most. Does the pain go anywhere from there?

Severity – How would you rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10?

Time – How long have you had the pain?

Remember OPQRST starts a conversation. Don’t limit yourself to just six questions. Be a detective and dig in as needed. 

Read more about adding associated signs or pertinent negatives to the OPQRST and the importance of asking lots of questions in two articles.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.