PQRST Pain Assessment Method: How it Works

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PQRST nursing pain assessment are tools that will help you keep track of all the questions you must ask while assessing a patient’s pain. These mnemonic are simply letters around ‘P’ for pain.

As a nurse, you would want your patients to be as comfortable as possible. But truth be told, pain is a very important thing to assess during treatment.

It can tell you a whole lot about what’s going on with the patient’s condition. So, it’s always important you observe their pain throughout your shift.

PQRST can make your work super easy. With these tools, you will always know what questions to ask your patients, even if you’re still a nursing student.

Come on, let’s explore the PQRST mnemonics one after the other.

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P = Provocation or Palliation

P can stand for Provocation or Palliation and is number 1 on the PQRST pain assessment tools. However, a lot of professionals like to combine it with Onset to learn about the possible causes of the pain.

So the following are the questions you can ask your patient:

ONSET:

  • What were you doing when the pain began?
  • How did the pain start: was it sudden or gradual?

PROVOCATION:

  • What provoked the pain?
  • What makes it worse or better?
  • Did the pain occur at rest or during exertion? Did the pain wake you up?

In provocation, you can also be specific with time.

For example, ask the following questions:

  • When did the waist pain begin?
  • Was it 2 minutes before you got up to go to the bathroom?
  • Has it been going on for hours, or is this a chronic situation?

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Q = Quality

The questions you’ll ask here will allow the patient to describe the quality of their pain.

For example:

  • Is the pain sharp, pounding, burning, dull, or tearing?
  • Can you describe the pain for me?
  • What does the pain feel like?

R = Region or Radiation

R can be for Region or Radiation. It allows the patient to describe what part of their body is hurting. You can ask the following questions:

  • What area of the body is the pain at?
  • Where are you hurting?
  • Does the pain move anywhere?
  • Is the pain radiating to any area of the body? For instance, is it starting from the shoulder to the back?
  • Is the pain spreading to another area?

Note: You can also ask the patient to point where they feel the pain.

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S = Severity, Signs, and Symptoms

This is where you know how bad the condition is. So, you can have your patient rate the pain on a rate of 0 to 10.

So zero can mean no pain at all, and 10 can be the worst possible pain imaginable or emergency situation.

You can also find out if the patient has other signs that go with pains. For example, you can ask:

  • Are you feeling nausea?
  • Is the pain eliciting anxiety?
  • Did you get any signs before things started getting worse?

Additional questions you can also ask the patient are:

  • Where is your pain level right now?
  • Or where was the pain level when it started an hour ago, a day ago, a week ago, and so on?

T = Time of Onset, Duration, and Intensity

You can ask the patient:

  • When did the pain start? An hour ago, last month, last year, and so on.
  • How was the onset of the pain: slow or sudden?
  • What is the duration: how long has it lasted? Is it a constant or intermittent pain? Does it come and go?
  • Has it happened before in the past?
  • What is the intensity of the pain: is it increasing in intensity? Or is it increasing and decreasing? Is it the same as previously, or is it different from last time?

Note: Knowing all these helps you set realistic goals for each patient. For instance, the treatment you give to someone with mild pain caused by, let’s say, a slight dislocation might not work for someone with chronic pain.

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Advantages of PQRST Nursing Pain Assessment

It is very important to assess pain effectively no matter what healthcare setting you find yourself in. This is because pain is the most common symptom that causes patients to seek medical attention.

If you really want to help your patients, then you need to properly assess their pain. The following are a few of the advantages of using the PQRST method of pain assessment:

  • Pain assessment tools like PQRST allows patients to play a more active role in dealing with their pain.
  • It may also help to create a more rewarding nurse-patient relationship.
  • In most cases, it can make patients feel that their pain is being taken seriously.
  • And finally, it can help in adopting the right treatment procedure for each patient.

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Sample PQRST Pain Assessment Form Tools pdf

Below is a sample PQRST method of pain assessment form tool. You can download it for free. There are many questions on it that can guide you in working with a patient during pain assessment.

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How to Use PQRST Pain Assessment Form

The PQRST pain assessment form is a guide. You will have to document your findings after the assessment.

This will guide you on how to proceed with administering treatment to the patient if you’re a qualified health care professional.

FAQs

What is the PQRST of pain assessment?

PQRST nursing pain assessment is a tool that will help you remember all the questions you need to ask when you’re assessing a patient’s pain. These mnemonic are simply letters around ‘P’ for pain.

P = Provocation or Palliation

Q = Quality

R = Region or Radiation

S = Severity, Signs, and Symptoms

T = Time of Onset, Duration, and Intensity

What does PQRST mean in medical terms?

PQRST is a method of understanding patients’ pain.

P = Provocation or Palliation

Q = Quality

R = Region or Radiation

S = Severity, Signs, and Symptoms

T = Time of Onset, Duration, and Intensity

What assessment is the mnemonic Pqrstu used in?

Pain assessment

How do you document pain assessment?

It can be done using the PQRST method of pain assessment.

The PQRST nursing pain assessment is a tool that will help you remember all the questions you need to ask when you’re assessing a patient’s pain. These mnemonic are simply letters around ‘P’ for pain.

When is PQRST used?

PQRST is used for assessing Pain. Though pain causes patients to seek medical attention, most training focuses primarily on treating injuries and illness, hence little time is spent on how to manage or assess the pain itself.

This is where PQRST becomes useful. It helps medical professionals in different healthcare settings understand the various questions they can use to assess a pain patient.

What are the 8 characteristics of pain?

  • Location
  • Radiation
  • Mode of onset
  • Character
  • Pattern
  • Temporary
  • exacerbating and relieving factors
  • intensity 

Conclusion

In conclusion, if helping your patient is your goal, then the PQRST Pain Assessment is the best method to use as a physician. This assessment helps you to identify the root cause of the ailment and proffer a better treatment for the patient.

Let’s hear from you and let others learn from you too. How has the PQRST been of use to you in your healthcare practice?

Do you find it useful, or are there other alternatives that work better for you? Hit the comments section and share your views!

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