Pain Management: Understanding the VAS Scale

VAS is the name that receives a horizontal scale used to measure pain in the field of health. The VAS scale allows us to establish a pain assessment that ranges from 0 to 10, with 0 being the complete absence of pain and 10 being an unbearable pain.

The VAS scale is represented by a horizontal line, which shows the patient to mark the exact area in which he considers the degree of pain he is suffering. Once you mark on the line, the doctor proceeds to the measurement using a ruler.

What is the VAS scale?

The VAS (Visual Analog Scale) scale is a straight line 10 centimeters in length. The figure indicating "no pain" appears on its left end, and "unbearable pain" on the right end. It is the patient who should point out the point of that line that best fits how he perceives the intensity of the pain he is suffering.

Before applying the VAS scale, the doctor must determine if the patient is in full use of his mental faculties. In the case of children or adults with some type of neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer's, it is possible to use a scale designed with colors, or even with faces that express different degrees of pain.

Why is the VAS scale used?

VAS is the most widely used pain scale today. Its rise in the health field is partly due to the fact that there is no procedure that objectively indicates the intensity of pain suffered by each patient.

The reason is that pain has a great component of psychic and emotional origin. In addition, in the assessment that each patient makes of the pain he suffers, neuro-hormonal components influence. Thus, there is a great diversity of possible results.

Therefore, these types of scales are especially useful for checking the evolution of the patient, but do not serve to extrapolate data to the population as a whole.

Even so, the VAS scale is very useful for assessing, for example, how the administration of analgesics can control the pain suffered by the patient. Thus, it is easier for doctors to establish treatment guidelines in relation to the levels of pain presented. And, of course, this scale allows them to know how the patient is responding to the established treatment.

Results of the VAS scale

This pain evaluation scale allows to establish a total of three pain levels.

<4: values ​​below 4 indicate that the intensity of pain suffered by the patient is mild or moderate.

4 - 6: if the patient points to an area of ​​the VAS scale between 4 and 6 centimeters, it means that their pain ranges from moderate to severe.

6: when the pain assessment is greater than 6, the patient is in a serious, very serious, and even unbearable situation.

The importance of controlling pain

Feeling pain is a perception that responds to subjectivity. Thus, there are some cases in which patients consider that it is only in their mind and, therefore, should not pay attention to it. This can sometimes lead the patient not to continue with the established medical treatment.

Well, although the psychological response is one of the most notorious, it is not the only complication that derives from pain. And it also produces various alterations in the normal functions of the body, affecting metabolism and blood circulation, among other factors.

Do not forget that pain is one of the most powerful stressors that exist. Therefore, if it is maintained for a long period of time it can cause the same results as anxiety and stress.

This is why it is so important to control pain as much as possible. In this way the patient's quality of life improves, and, in addition, the functions of his organism return to normal.