EMS Tips

What are the Best Pain Scale Endpoints?

A reader wrote to me recently about a CE lesson where I suggested asking a patient with pain to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10. The reader explained it would be better to ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10.

In my opinion a pain scale could be 0 to 10, 1 to 10, 0 to 5, or 0 to 100. I don’t think the end points on the scale are nearly as important as rating the patient’s initial pain and then tracking the change in pain over time, especially after interventions are performed.

Thus, I am OK with EMS professionals asking patients to rate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10 or 1 to 10.

Your turn. Do you have a pain scale preference? Do the end points of the scale matter?


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.