Despite increased emphasis on addressing patient pain, knowledge and information about pressure ulcer pain remains limited. To describe the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of pain related to pressure ulcers, a study was conducted among 47 hospitalized patients with pressure ulcers using the McGill Pain Questionnaire and Revised Faces Rating Scale. Volunteer participants, admitted for neurological disorders, ranged in age from 38 to 72 years (mean age 60.1 years +/- 8.23; 29 men, 18 women), six with Stage II, 32 with Stage III, and nine with Stage IV pressure ulcers. All but three (44, 94.6%) reported pressure ulcer pain; of those, 28 (59.5%) reported constant pressure ulcer pain and 41 (87.2%) did not specify when pain occurred. Dressing change, movement of the afflicted area, and pain at rest were reported by 32 (68.1%), nine (19.1%), and three (6.4%) patients, respectively. "Hot-burning" was the sensory descriptor most frequently used to describe the pain in 52%, 56%, and 67% of Stage II, Stage III, and Stage IV patients, respectively. Three out of six patients with Stage I/ ulcers rated their pain "discomforting," 32 of 32 with Stage III ulcers rated pain as "distressing," and nine out of nine with a Stage IV ulcer rated their pain as "horrible". Based on the Revised Faces Rating Scale, mean pain intensity was 6.04 +/- 2.78 (range 1 to 10), corresponding to moderate pain. For overall pain intensity; Patient Pain Index and Faces Rating Scale-Revised scores were highly correlated (r = 0.90, P < 0.001). Pressure ulcers are painful, most patients report pain as "constant", and pain assessment should be included in all patient care plans.