Health Guide
Drug Guide

Pain management in adults

What is it?

Pain is your body's way of reacting to injury or illness. Everybody reacts to pain in different ways. What you think is painful may not be painful to someone else. But, pain is whatever you say it is!

What causes pain? Pain can be caused by many things, such as an injury, surgery, or a disease. Some pain is caused by pressure on a nerve, such as a cancer tumor. Other pain is caused when nerves are cut as in an accident or surgery. After an injury or surgery you may not want to move the painful part of your body at all. But, you may have pain because you are not moving this body part. Sometimes there is no clear reason for your pain.

What are the different types of pain? Pain may be acute or chronic.

What is your pain like? Caregivers want you to talk to them about your pain. This helps them learn what may be causing the pain and how best to treat it. Tell caregivers your answers to the following questions:

Why is pain control important? Pain can affect your appetite (ability or desire to eat), how well you sleep, your energy, and your ability to do things. Pain can also affect your mood (how you feel about things) and relationships with others. If caregivers can help you control your pain, you will suffer less and can even heal faster.

Medical Care:

The best way to decrease pain is to treat the cause of the pain. Almost all types of pain, including cancer pain, can be controlled with medicine and other treatments. It may not be possible to get rid of your pain completely. But, it is possible to lower the pain level so you can live and be comfortable enough doing everyday things. You and your caregiver will work together to find what pain control treatments are best for you. Always tell your caregiver if the pain gets worse. Ask your caregiver if you want more information about any of the following treatments. Medicine:

Anti-Anxiety Medicine: This medicine may be given to help you feel less nervous. It may be given intravenously (IV), as a shot, or by mouth.

Anti-Nausea Medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and control vomiting (throwing up). But pain medicine may upset your stomach and make you feel like vomiting. Because of this, pain medicine and anti-nausea medicine are often given at the same time.

Pain medicine: You may be given one or more different types of pain medicine that affect the nervous system so you feel less pain. They work together so that less medicine is needed while getting better pain control than any single type of medicine. Pain medicine may not get rid of pain completely. But, it should keep it at a level that allows you to move around, eat, and breathe easily. Do not wait until your pain is too bad to ask for medicine. The medicine may not work as well at controlling the pain if you wait too long. Tell caregivers if the pain does not go away or comes back.

How can pain medicine be given? Following are the different ways pain medicine can be given depending on the kind of pain you have:

How can you take pain medicine safely and make it work the best for you?

Some pain medicines can make you breathe less deeply and less often. The medicine may also make you sleepy, dizzy, and unsafe to drive a car or use heavy equipment. For these reasons, it is very important to follow your caregivers advice on how to use this medicine.

Sometimes the pain is worse when you first wake up in the morning. This may happen if you did not have enough pain medicine in your blood stream to last through the night. Caregivers may tell you to take a dose of pain medicine during the night.

Some food, alcohol, and other medicines may cause unpleasant side effects when you take pain medicine. Follow your caregiver's advice about how to prevent these problems.

Pain medicine can make you constipated (hard BMs). Straining with a BM can make your pain worse. Do not try to push the BM out if it is too hard. Following are some things that you can do to deal with constipation.

Do not stop taking pain medicine suddenly if you have been taking it longer than 2 weeks. Your body may have become used to the medicine. Stopping the medicine all at once may cause unpleasant or dangerous side effects.

With time, you may feel that the pain medicine is not working as well as it did before. Call your caregiver if this happens. Together you can talk about changing your medicines or find new ways to control the pain.

Other non-drug pain control methods: There are many pain control techniques that can help you deal with pain even if it does not go away completely. It is important to practice some of the techniques when you do not have pain, if possible. This will help the technique work better during a pain attack.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

Supplements:

Complementary Therapies:

Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

References:

1. Carpenter DM & Nelson BW: Low back strengthening for the prevention and treatment of low back pain. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999; 31(1):18-24.

2. Chrubasik S & Eisenberg E: Treatment of rheumatic pain with kampo medicine in Europe. Part 1. Harpagophytum procumbens. Pain Clinic 1999; 11(3):171-178.

3. Elkayam O, Ben Itzhak S, Avrahami E et al: Multidisciplinary approach to chronic back pain: prognostic elements of the outcome. Clin Exp Rheumatol 1996; 14(3):281-288.

4. Ernst E & Pittler MH: Experts' opinions on complementary/alternative therapies for low back pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999; 22(2):87-90.

5. Ernst E & White AR: Acupuncture for back pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med 1998; 158(20):2235-2241.

6. Flor H & Birbaumer N: Comparison of the efficacy of electromyographic biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and conservative medical interventions in the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain. J Consult Clin Psychol 1993; 61(4):653-658.

7. Lincoff NS, Rath PP & Hirano M: The treatment of periocular and facial pain with topical capsaicin. J Neuroophthalmol 1998; 18(1):17-20.

8. Mathias BJ, Dillingham TR, Zeigler DN et al: Topical capsaicin for chronic neck pain: a pilot study. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 1995; 74(1):39-44.

9. Robbins WR, Staats PS, Levine J et al: Treatment of intractable pain with topical large-dose capsaicin: preliminary report. Anesth Analg 1998; 86(3):579-583.

10. van Tulder MW, Cherkin DC, Berman B et al: The effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of acute and chronic low back pain. A systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group. Spine 1999; 24(11):1113-1123.

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Last Updated: 9/15/2016

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