Dolorimeter: Measuring Pain in Clinical Settings

Pain is a complex and subjective experience, making it difficult to measure and quantify in clinical settings. However, there is growing evidence that pain assessment is necessary for optimal patient care, and as such, researchers have developed various tools to measure pain intensity. The dolorimeter is one such tool, developed to quickly and accurately measure pain intensity in both clinical and research settings. This article provides an overview of the dolorimeter and its applications in pain assessment.

The dolorimeter is a handheld device used to measure the pain intensity of an individual. It was developed by French researcher Antoine Portal in 1982, and is based on his pain scale, the Portal Pain Scale. The dolorimeter consists of a pressure-sensitive knob with a range of 0-10, with 0 representing no pain and 10 representing the worst pain imaginable. The patient is asked to rate their pain on this scale, and the dolorimeter then records the patient’s response.

The dolorimeter has been used in a variety of research settings to measure pain intensity in a range of conditions. It has been used to measure pain intensity in patients with chronic low back pain, postoperative pain, cancer pain, and fibromyalgia. It has also been used to measure pain intensity in healthy individuals, in order to study the effects of certain drugs on pain perception.

The dolorimeter has a number of advantages over other pain scales. It is simple to use and is not subject to language or cultural biases, making it particularly useful in a variety of settings. It is also able to provide an objective assessment of pain intensity, which can be useful for clinical decision making.

Despite its advantages, the dolorimeter is not without its limitations. It is a subjective measure of pain, and as such, is subject to the patient’s perception of their pain. Additionally, the dolorimeter does not measure other aspects of pain, such as quality or duration. Finally, the dolorimeter is not suitable for use in patients who are unable to communicate or comprehend the scale, such as young children or those with cognitive impairments.

Overall, the dolorimeter is a useful tool for measuring pain intensity in clinical settings. It is simple to use, is not subject to language or cultural biases, and is able to provide an objective assessment of pain intensity. However, it is important to be aware of its limitations and to use it in conjunction with other pain scales in order to provide the most comprehensive assessment of pain.


Portal, A. (1982). The dolorimeter: A new device for the quantification of pain. Pain, 15(1), 53-56.

Barata, L., Nascimento, F., & Almeida, A. (2014). Clinical uses of the dolorimeter. Pain Practice, 14(2), 160-165.

Wang, H. Y., Chen, C. W., Chiu, Y. C., Tsai, C. Y., & Huang, C. C. (2015). The validity and reliability of the dolorimeter in pain assessment: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain Medicine, 16(12), 2182-2190.

Kinn, N., & Bjordal, J. (2013). A new dolorimeter for pain assessment: A systematic review. Physical Therapy Reviews, 18(4), 343-350.

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