Pain is often feared because pain hurts. But pain is sometimes misunderstood.
Pain is your body’s natural response to injury, illness, or surgery. When you are injured or sick, you can expect to have some level of pain.
There are different types of pain. Pain that begins suddenly is called "acute pain." Sometimes pain is constant. Other times it lasts only a short while. Pain that lasts a long time is called "chronic pain."
But even if pain is expected, it does not have to be severe. Having no pain while in the hospital is not realistic. Your health care team will work closely with you to help manage your pain.
Also, pain does not just mean physical pain. Anxiety, or emotional discomfort, is also a form of pain
Whatever kind of pain you may have, your health care team will help you manage your pain during your hospital stay and prepare you for your return home.
Before coming to the hospital, it is very important to take your prescription pain medicine as directed, with just a sip of water. It is important to do this even if you have instructions not to eat or drink anything.
When you get to the hospital, tell your health care team which pain medicine you have taken. It is a good idea to bring a list of all the medicine you are currently taking.
After your surgery or procedure, you may feel new pain – such as pain near your surgical area.
You and your health care team will establish a "pain goal" – the amount of acceptable pain you can tolerate during your hospital stay.
Pain you can tolerate does not mean pain you can barely stand. Acceptable pain at a tolerable level is what allows you to do daily activities like walking, bathing, sitting up to eat meals, or comfortably resting in a chair.
If you have experienced pain in the past, tell your health care team what type of pain control worked best – such as heat or cold therapy, or certain kinds of pain medicine. Also be sure to mention if any medicine has caused you any problems.
Above all, if your pain gets worse during your hospital stay – or if your pain medicine is not helping – please tell your health care team.
Our goal is to help you manage your pain. Your pain may not completely go away, but you can rely on your health care team working to decrease your pain and help you get well.
Everybody feels pain differently, but it is important for your health care team to understand how you are feeling. During your hospital stay, you will often be asked to rate your level of pain.
Different hospitals and clinics use different ways to get this rating. Some pain scales are numbered zero through ten, where patients choose numbers that best describe their pain.
At Allina Health, you may be asked to rate your pain using numbers, faces, or words.
The goal remains the same – to help you communicate the level of pain you are feeling and to measure your progress.
There is no correct number or description. You may think moderate pain is a "three", while others may call it a "five." The important thing is to be consistent in how you rate your pain. This will help your health care team understand how you are feeling.
For example, if today your pain is a "three", but tomorrow it is a "four", this tells your health care team to make important changes to your medicine.
You will be asked to rate all your pain – not just pain from your surgery or procedure. For instance, if you feel pain from an old injury, be sure to tell your health care team.
You will also be asked to describe your pain. What does your pain feel like? Is it sharp and stabbing? Or is it dull and throbbing? Is it a burning pain? Is your pain constant? Or does it come and go? Please do your best to describe your pain.
Remember -- this is your pain. Be honest about how you feel. Your comfort is important to us. You and your health care team will work together to manage your pain with different treatment options.
Identifying and describing your pain is the first step toward healing.
The next step involves treatment options for pain control, designed to help keep you comfortable as you recover.
Your health care team will review your pain medicine with you. Be sure to tell them about any medicine you are currently taking – including prescription, over-the-counter, and any supplements.
It is also important to mention any allergies you have, as well as side effects or other problems you have had in the past from certain types of medicine.
Together, you and your health care team will decide which pain medicine is best for you.
Your pain medicine may be given to you on a regular schedule, or you may be able to ask for pain medicine as needed.
Pain medicine takes time to work, so it is important to take your medicine early on when you first feel pain – do not wait until your pain gets worse before taking your medicine.
Also, be sure to tell your health care team if you feel any new pain, if your pain is getting worse, or if your medicine does not seem to be helping.
Your pain medicine may come in tablets or pills, or it may be injected into your IV. Other types of pain control may include the use of a nerve block, which uses medicine to shield pain from certain parts of your body. You and your health care team will decide which pain control is best for you.
As with any medicine, there are possible side effects – which usually occur within a few hours. Common side effects include constipation, dizziness, upset stomach, itching, and rashes.
Side effects can be managed.
Along with your pain medicine, you may receive physical therapy to help you heal and become more active. Pain medicine may also involve heat and cold therapy.
Integrative health may include massage, relaxation techniques, aroma therapy, and others. Patients have responded very well to these therapies, often healing more quickly.
Your health care team will work closely with you to develop the best pain control plan possible.
Before you leave the hospital, be sure to ask any questions you may have. Your health care team will be happy to help you.
Managing your pain continues when you return home from the hospital.
Be sure to follow all instructions you were given when you left the hospital. It is recommended that you re-read your instructions a day after you return home.
Because you will be more active at home than you were in the hospital, your pain may increase.
Should you feel new pain, or your pain becomes out of control, refer to your home instructions for whom to call.
As in the hospital, you may have side effects from your medicine. It is best to take your medicine with soda crackers or light food to help avoid an upset stomach.
It is recommended that you take a stool softener and a stimulant laxative to prevent constipation. Your pharmacist can answer any questions you may have.
Follow any instructions about physical activity – including positioning techniques. This will help you heal more comfortably.
Some medicines may cause you to feel dizzy or drowsy. Be sure you know what these side effects are to help keep you safe in your home. Ask your caregiver for help.
While you are taking prescription pain medicine, follow your doctor’s instructions about taking any additional over-the-counter pain medicine.
If you need a refill of your pain medicine, call the doctor referred to in your home instructions 48 hours before you run out of medicine.
Your safety at home is very important to us. Before returning home from the hospital, have your caregiver remove all throw rugs and arrange furniture to make a clear walking path. This will prevent tripping or falling.
Read and follow your hospital discharge instructions to answer any questions you may have. You will be given information on whom to call if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Your relief from pain is very important to us at Allina Health. Thank you for allowing us to partner with you as you heal and begin your recovery.