Understanding the Pilonidal Cyst Pain Level Scale
On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pilonidal cyst pain? Being able to rate your pilonidal cyst pain level can be a useful tool for determining when and how to treat your condition. Get to know the pain scale so that you can assess your situation and accurately report your symptoms to your doctor.
Pain Scale for Rating Discomfort
Doctors and hospitals often use a 0 to 10 pain scale to find out what state patients are in. A rating of 0 is the low end, indicating that the person has no pain. 10, on the other hand, represents the worst pain imaginable.
Scales used from one medical clinic to another may vary slightly, but they usually resemble the one below:
Small twinges of discomfort or pain now and then
Occasional annoying discomfort
Bothersome but tolerable pain or discomfort
Pain that is noticed regularly
Pain that is apparent throughout the day
Distressing pain that limits activities
Severe pain that interrupts sleep and makes thinking difficult
Pain that is strong enough to cause nausea or make it hard to talk
All-consuming pain that significantly hinders talking or moving
Pain that makes a person pass out
You can see a visual representation of the pain scale in the video below:
Pilonidal Disease and the Pain Scale
A pilonidal cyst, better known as a pilonidal sinus, can be a very painful condition. This unnatural channel or cavity near the cleft of the buttocks can trap hair, debris, oil and bacteria. As a result, it can become infected and form an abscess.
An infected pilonidal cyst may become quite inflamed and tender. There may be a good deal of pressure on the swollen, stretched skin, and the cavity may fill with pus. The worse the condition gets, the higher up the pain scale you'll move.
Home care may help reduce your pilonidal cyst pain level. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can provide short-term relief. So, too, can soaking in a bathtub of warm water or sitting on a pillow. Topical tea tree, sage or castor oil may help take down the inflammation.
The pressure around your tailbone will go down if the abscess drains. Applying a hot compress to the affected area can encourage natural draining. Although you may be tempted to try popping the abscess to relieve the pressure, that's not recommended.
When to Seek Pilonidal Treatment
Can the pain scale help you know when it's time to get professional help for your pilonidal cyst or have pilonidal surgery? The scale can be a useful tool, but there are some caveats.
Rating your pain on a scale isn't an exact science. The truth of the matter is that pain is subjective. What you might classify as a 5, someone else might consider a 6 or an 8. As a result, it's impossible to set a definitive pain level at which you should seek treatment for a pilonidal cyst.
As a general rule, though, if you are experiencing regular pain or discomfort — for example, you'd rate your pain level as 2 to 4 for a few days in a row — from a suspected pilonidal sinus, it's a good idea to consult your doctor. Visiting your physician will allow you to get an accurate diagnosis and begin care and treatment discussions.
If the pain is more intense or is gradually growing worse, you should certainly seek help right away. There's no reason to let your pilonidal sinus pain stay at a 5 or above for any length of time. Having the doctor drain your abscess can provide immediate relief so that you can once again sit or stand without extreme pain.
After drainage, if your pilonidal cyst pain returns, it may be time to discuss surgical treatment with your doctor. Although when you have surgery is between you and your doctor, pain that noticeably interferes with your daily activities may be the impetus. In one study, pre-operative patients reported an average pain level of 7.11.
Pain Levels After Surgery
Although surgical treatment for pilonidal disease can provide long-term relief, the recovery period can be difficult. If you want to reduce your pain rating after surgery, it's important to pick the right treatment.
The traditional surgery for this condition is excision of the pilonidal cyst and the surrounding tissue. In a study of pilonidal excisions, one group of patients reported an average pain level of 6.5. Another group's average rating was 7.4.
A promising alternative to traditional surgery is laser coagulation of the sinus tract. Studies show that patients who have this procedure done have significantly lower pain levels compared to those who undergo excisions.
In the study of patients with an average pre-operative pain level of 7.11, their average rating had dropped to 5.74 within one day of treatment. After seven days, the average pain had dropped to 1.96.
Laser surgery is less painful because it doesn't require cutting the entire sinus tract out of the body. Instead, the laser ablates the tract and seals it shut. This less invasive procedure generally makes for an easier healing process.
If you're dealing with an infected pilonidal sinus, use the pilonidal cyst pain level scale to assess your condition. You may be able to reduce a low pain level with home care, but a high pain rating or an increasing pain level indicates that it's time to discuss treatment options with your doctor. Your post-surgical pain level might be lowest if you opt for laser treatment with the neoV Laser instead of a traditional excision.
As with all medical issues, your physician is the ultimate source as to what procedure best fits your needs. Discuss all options and get a second opinion if you have any doubts. These articles are intended to be a source of general information only.