The McGill Pain Index

The McGill Pain Questionnaire, also known as McGill pain index, is a scale of rating pain developed at McGill University by Melzack and Torgerson in 1971.

To use the questionnaire, circle the words that describe your pain but do not circle more than one word in a group. Then when you have that done, go back and circle the three words in groups 1-10 that most convey your pain response. Pick the two words in groups 11-15 that do the same thing. Then pick one word in group 16. Finally, pick 1 word in groups 17-20. At the end you should have seven words that you can take to your doctor that will help describe both the quality of your pain and the intensity of it.

Sample McGill Pain Questionnaire[1]
Group 1 Flickering, Pulsing, Quivering, Throbbing, Beating, Pounding
Group 2 Jumping, Flashing, Shooting
Group 3 Pricking, Boring, Drilling, Stabbing
Group 4 Sharp, Cutting, Lacerating
Group 5 Pinching, Pressing, Gnawing, Cramping, Crushing
Group 6 Tugging, Pulling, Wrenching
Group 7 Hot, Burning, Scalding, Searing
Group 8 Tingling, Itchy, Smarting, Stinging
Group 9 Dull, Sore, Hurting, Aching, Heavy
Group 10 Tender, Taut (tight), Rasping, Splitting
Group 11 Tiring, Exhausting
Group 12 Sickening, Suffocating
Group 13 Fearful, Frightful, Terrifying
Group 14 Punishing, Grueling, Cruel, Vicious, Killing
Group 15 Wretched, Binding
Group 16 Annoying, Troublesome, Miserable, Intense, Unbearable
Group 17 Spreading, Radiating, Penetrating, Piercing
Group 18 Tight, Numb, Squeezing, Drawing, Tearing
Group 19 Cool, Cold, Freezing
Group 20 Nagging, Nauseating, Agonizing, Dreadful, Torturing

You can use some words more than once.

The McGill Pain Questionnaire: major properties and scoring methods.


The McGill Pain Questionnaire consists primarily of 3 major classes of word descriptors–sensory, affective and evaluative–that are used by patients to specify subjective pain experience. It also contains an intensity scale and other items to determine the properties of pain experience. The questionnaire was designed to provide quantitative measures of clinical pain that can be treated statistically. This paper describes the procedures for administration of the questionnaire and the various measures that can be derived from it. The 3 major measures are: (1) the pain rating index, based on two types of numerical values that can be assigned to each word descriptor, (2) the number of words chosen; and (3) the present pain intensity based on a 1-5 intensity scale. Correlation coefficients among these measures, based on data obtained with 297 patients suffering several kinds of pain, are presented. In addition, an experimental study which utilized the questionnaire is analyzed in order to describe the nature of the information that is obtained. The data, taken together, indicate that the McGill Pain Questionnaire provides quantitative information that can be treated statistically, and is sufficiently sensitive to detect differences among different methods to relieve pain.

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