Comparative Pain Scale – Free Printable

During a recent Facebook conversation about the trouble with pain level reporting, someone inevitably shared my favorite comparative pain scale as an image. It’s the most descriptive chart for explaining what, specifically, what pain levels 0-10 mean in the most objective sense possible. Since pain is a rather subjective experience – I have a low pain threshold, but I’ve become more able to tolerate my most familiar types of pain – there is still some ambiguity involved. But if you bring this pain chart with you to your doctor’s office or the emergency room, you can better communicate exactly how you are experiencing your pain instead of trying to choose an arbitrary number on the spot.

The only problem with the pain chart image that has been shared everywhere is that there are a number of typos, and that home printers don’t like printing images nearly so much as they like printing text. So I transcribed the pain chart, made some edits and additions, and turned it into a PDF that won’t take nearly as much ink. It’s also completely black and white, so you don’t need to waste your color ink. (If anyone knows the original source of the aforementioned pain scale, please let me know so I can give proper credit.) Here is a screenshot of the PDF, which you can download below:

Comparative Pain Scale Chart

Here is the link to download the Comparative Pain Scale PDF: Comparative Pain Scale

If you find this helpful, please share the link to this page with your friends or health care professionals so they can print their own copies, perhaps laminating them.

If you’d rather not print this yourself, you can order printed copies from my Zazzle shop. The background color is customizable.

Christina Gleason (976 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


  1. This is very helpful! I’m a migraine sufferer and have given a lot of thought to defining the pain levels. I think of 7 as the puking level, 8 as the “verbal cortex disengaged” level where I often have trouble speaking (but can keep working, with extreme determination, as long as nobody talks to me), 9 as, “No, seriously, I can’t do anything except maybe take medication, maybe, can you help me do it?” I thought I had gotten to 10 once, and then very briefly another time, but now I’m not sure–here’s the story:

    (I found your blog from your comment at The Bloggess.)

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