Managing your pain

Pain is your body's response to injury, illness or surgery. It can come on suddenly (acute) or last a long time (chronic). Pain can be constant or it can come and go.

Pain affects every part of your life: eating, sleeping, work, interests and relationships. It can cause you to be stressed, depressed, tired or angry.

Pain is unique. No two people feel pain in the same ways. Pain that is intense to one person may be mild to another.

Your health care team is committed to helping you get well and manage your pain. Your nurses will ask you to rate the strength of your pain using a pain scale. (There is no "correct" number for your pain level.) They will also ask you what your pain feels like.

allina health pain assessment scale


Video series

Pain management

These four videos review pain expectations, rating your pain, pain treatment options and home pain management.

video_icon Watch all four modules.

Regional anesthesia for post-operative pain control

This 24-minute video explains what a peripheral nerve block is and how you can use it to control pain in the hospital and after you return home.

video_icon Watch the full video or in two- to three-minute segments.

Your role in managing pain

You are the only one who knows where and how severe your pain is. You have a key role in managing your pain. If you have pain, tell your nurse or doctor. Your health care team will create a pain relief plan to meet your needs.

Tell your nurse or doctor:

  • what makes your pain better or worse
  • what methods of pain control have worked or have not worked well in the past
  • if your pain starts to get worse
  • if you feel new pain

Your nurse will work with you to establish an appropriate pain goal during your hospital stay.

The right pain control can help you be more comfortable, get back to your normal routine, and promote healing.

Your health care team will work with you to treat your pain. Your options may include:

  • medicines
  • physical therapy
  • heat or cold therapy
  • nerve blocks
  • integrative therapies: acupuncture, relaxation techniques, massage therapy or music

Questions to ask your doctor or nurse

Ask your doctor or nurse these questions:

  • What will I be given for my pain?
  • How should I take the medicine?
  • When should I take it?
  • How long should I take it?
  • What are the side effects?

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Surgery: What You Need to Know, surg-ah-21686
First Published: 01/15/2011
Last Reviewed: 11/25/2019