I’ve written about the Relentlessness scale before. So you don’t have to go back and find the post: I’m not satisfied with the pain scale. In fibromyalgia, the level of pain is not as important as the relentlessness of the pain, how much time we have with and without pain. In the doctor’s office we’re always asked how we would rate our pain. Wrong question. We should be asked how do we rate the relentlessness of our pain. Big difference. In my non-educated and partial opinion, relentlessness is the key to both depression and fatigue in fibro patients. Low level pain is exhausting. Relentless pain makes a person feel trapped and powerless.
In my Captain’s Log of Tuesdays where I document the week, I’m using both the Relentlessness scale and the pain scale to keep track of how difficult or wonderful the week has been. Using the two in combination, I think, is characterizing how the different pains work. Arthritis-type pain is high in both categories – relentless and painful. Chronic “white noise” pain (non specific unpleasant sensations) is high in relentlessness but low in pain. Acute pain, such as shooting pains in the legs, is low in relentlessness but can be quite high in pain. This gives rise to four different categories:
High relentlessness – high pain
Low relentlessness – high pain
High relentlessness – low pain
Low relentlessness – low pain
I don’t know if it would be useful to use these categories to work towards pain management or treatment, but I think it would be useful in terms of the psychology of fibromyalgia. While I don’t agree that people with fibromyalgia necessarily started out with a mental/emotional disorder, I do agree that it’s important to address any psychological disorders that may arise with chronic pain. Recognizing the relentlessness of chronic pain and even the variety of the types of chronic pain people with fibro have may be a good start in understanding the mental/emotional issues they may be having.