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Special Test

Mcgill Pain Scale Questionnaire

Mcgill Pain Scale Questionnaire and its short form provide the patient with three major classes of word descriptors (sensory, affective, and evaluative) to describe their pain experience. These designations are used to differentiate patients who have a true sensory pain experience from those who think they have experienced pain (affective pain state).

It was developed at by Dr. Melzack at McGill University in Montreal Canada and has been translated into several languages.

McGill Pain Questionnaire provides quantitative information that can be treated statistically, and is sufficiently sensitive to detect differences among different methods to relieve pain.

See Also: Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS Score)

Mcgill Pain Scale Questionnaire Parts

Part 1: Where is your pain?

The following question is asked to the patient to know the location of pain:

Please mark on the drawing below the areas where you feel pain. Put E if external or I if internal near the areas which you mark. Put EI if both external and internal.

Mcgill Pain Scale Questionnaire - Pain location

Part 2: What Does Your Pain Feel Like?

Some of the following words below describe your present pain. Circle ONLY those words that best describe it. Leave out any category that is not suitable. Use only a single word in each appropriate category – the one that applies best.

What Does Your Pain Feel Like

Part 3: How Does Your Pain Change with Time?

Which word or words would you use to describe the pattern of your pain?

Continuous RhythmicBrief
Steady PeriodicMomentary

Do the following items increase or decrease your pain?

  1. liquor
  2. stimulants such as coffee
  3. eating
  4. heat
  5. cold
  6. damp
  7. weather changes
  8. massage or use of a vibrator
  9. pressure
  10. no movement
  11. movement
  12. sleep or rest
  13. lying down
  14. distraction (TV reading etc.)
  15. urination or defecation
  16. tension
  17. bright lights
  18. loud noises
  19. going to work
  20. intercourse
  21. mild exercise
  22. fatigue
See Also: Manual Muscle Testing (MMT Grades)

Part 4: How Strong is Your Pain?

People agree that the following 5 words (mild discomforting distressing horrible excruciating) represent pain of increasing intensity.

MildDiscomfortingDistressingHorrible Excruciating
See Also: Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI)

To answer each question below write the number of the most appropriate word in the space beside the question:

  1. Which word describes your pain right now?
  2. Which word describes it at its worst?
  3. Which word describes it when it is least?
  4. Which word describes the worst toothache you ever had?
  5. Which word describes the worst headache you ever had?
  6. Which word describes the worst stomachache you ever had?


  • Minimum pain score: 0 (would not be seen in a person with true pain)
  • Maximum pain score: 78

The higher the pain score the greater the pain.

Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire

The short-form McGill pain questionnaire:

  1. descriptors 1 to 11 represent the sensory dimension of pain experience,
  2. descriptors 12 to 15 represent the affective dimension.
  3. Each descriptor is ranked on an intensity scale of 0 = none, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe.

The present pain intensity (PPI) of the standard long-form McGill pain questionnaire and the visual analog scale are also included to provide overall intensity scores. For actual examination, line would be 10 cm long.

Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire

References & More

  1. Melzack R: The McGill pain questionnaire: major properties and scoring methods, Pain 1:280– 281, 1975. Pubmed
  2. Melzack R. The short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire. Pain. 1987 Aug;30(2):191-197. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(87)91074-8. PMID: 3670870. Pubmed
  3. Orthopedic Physical Assessment by David J. Magee, 7th Edition.
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