Managing Pain During Your Hospital Stay
Pain is an individual experience. Managing the pain that you experience takes communication and teamwork between you and your healthcare providers. We are committed to always providing our patients with optimal pain management at all stages of their care.
What is Pain?
Pain is a physical discomfort or suffering caused by illness or injury. Each person’s pain is unique. It is affected by your physical condition, past experiences, and your attitudes and emotions. You may not describe or experience pain in the same way as another person with the same condition. Our team recognizes that your pain is what you feel it is.
Why Is It Important to Control Pain?
Our goal is to help return you to your activities of daily living. Pain can affect your activity, mood, sleep, energy and relationships. It is important to control pain to prevent suffering and allow for faster recovery. The goal is to help control the pain, but not have it completely go away. This is because pain can help guide you in the recovery process to allow you not to overwork yourself.
How Can You Inform Your Care Team of Your Pain?
If you are experiencing pain, inform your care team at the onset of your pain. Use these questions to help describe your pain:
- How does your pain feel?
- Is it constant or does it come and go (intermittent)?
- When did it start?
- How long does it last?
- Are you experiencing it in one particular area? Is it radiating to other areas?
- Is it deep or on the surface?
- Is it throbbing, burning, stabbing, cramping, aching, dull, or sharp?
- What makes the pain worse? What makes it better?
How Much Does Your Pain Hurt?
Our team will routinely ask your pain level to help us evaluate if your pain is adequately managed and how best to control it. You will be asked throughout your hospital stay to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10. (0 = No Pain and 10 = the worst pain you can imagine or have ever experienced.)
Pain Management That Is Centered Around the Patient
Our multidisciplinary pain management team is trained in the most current techniques for managing pain. The team’s board-certified pain management physicians and nurse practitioners work closely with your medical and surgical, anesthesiology, nursing, and rehabilitation teams to ensure that any pain you may experience is appropriately controlled during your recovery. The focus of
our care is centered around you the patient.
Treating Your Pain
Englewood Health’s team will create an individualized plan to treat your pain, based on your needs and preferences, aligned with specific goals for your recovery.
- If you are having surgery, ask your surgeon about his or her plans to control pain after your procedure. This may include medications that you will receive before the operation to minimize pain later and what medications or other techniques will be available for pain relief after your surgery, which may include nerve blocks, epidurals or patient-controlled analgesia.
- For both medical and surgical patients, non-medical techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation techniques, guided imagery, heat or ice, medically supervised acupuncture, and massage therapy can be effective methods of managing pain.
- Mild to moderate pain is generally treated with non-opioid pain relievers such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, and/or nerve-related pain medications, which may be added as appropriate. Please let your care team know if you wish to avoid these kind of medications.
- Severe pain may be treated with various approaches and sometimes this may include opioids. Please let your healthcare provider know if you have any concerns regarding opioids or have had any type of addiction, including alcohol. Opioids can cause side effects including constipation. If taking an opioid prescription, you will be started on stool softeners and a bowel regimen. If you experience any side effects while on these medications, let your nurse know. Opioids are not intended for long-term use. Prescription opioids carry serious risks of addiction, overdose and death, especially with prolonged use. As you heal your pain will decrease and you will not need opioids.
Taking an Active Role in Your Pain Management
Patients play an important role in effective pain management. You can help improve your pain by:
- Working closely with your doctors and nurses (your care team) to develop goals for pain alleviation and to design the best pain management plan for you. Be sure to discuss any concerns you
may have with your team. Inform your care team of techniques and medicines that have helped or not helped you in the past.
- Telling your care team about all allergies and any adverse effects to pain medications that you have experienced.
- Reporting all medications, dosages and how often you take them. Discuss your medical history including stomach ulcers, kidney, and liver or bleeding problems.
- Discussing any anxieties with your doctor. Anxiety can increase your perception of pain and make it feel worse. Treating anxiety is as often as important as treating the pain itself.
- Using relaxation techniques. The relaxation/guided imagery channel on your TV (channel 70) may help to decrease your perception of pain and stress related to your hospitalization.
- Communicating with your nurse if you feel your pain is not controlled. In some cases, pain cannot be relieved completely. However, our goal is to decrease your perception of pain, allowing you to rest, heal and participate in rehabilitation from your surgery or illness, so that you may return to your daily life.