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Pain Management

 Information about St. Mary’s commitment to helping you report and manage pain.

Patient Rights

As a patient at St. Mary’s Health Care System you can expect:

  • Your reports of pain will be believed
  • Staff who are responsive to your reports of pain
  • Information about pain and pain relief measures
  • A concerned and knowledgeable staff committed to appropriate pain management
Patient Responsibilities

As a patient at St. Mary’s Health Care System, we expect that you will:

  • Ask your doctor or nurse what to expect regarding pain and pain management
  • Review the following information on pain management and actively participate in efforts to effectively manage your pain
Commonly Asked Questions

Why is pain management important?

Unrelieved pain can be harmful, especially when you are sick or after surgery. Pain can make it difficult to take a deep breath and interferes with your ability to move and walk. This can result in complications and a longer stay in the hospital.

How will I tell others how much pain I have?

Your nurses and doctors will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine.

Using the Pain Scale, you will be asked to set a comfort goal. If you are unable to maintain this level of comfort, especially during activities such as deep breathing and walking, let your nurse or doctor know.

Will I get “hooked” on pain medicine?

Receiving pain medicine for acute pain does not cause addiction. A true addiction occurs rarely and is not a concern in treatment of acute pain.

What about side effects from pain medicine?

It is important to tell your doctor or nurse of any unusual signs or symptoms. Most common side effects include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Itching or rash
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Confusion
  • Excessive drowsiness

These side effects can be managed but you must let someone know. You will be monitored for other, less common side effects, including respiratory depressions, which occur in less than 1 percent of patients.

What can I do to help manage my pain?

  • Report pain promptly. Pain is more diffcult to treat when it becomes severe.
  • Work with your doctor and nurse to set a comfort goal and to develop a plan to manage pain.
  • Help your doctor and nurse to measure your pain by rating pain on scale of 0–10 and describing pain as accurately as possible.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse about any pain that is not relieved with treatment.
  • Do not worry about getting “hooked” on pain medication.
  • Report all other medications you are taking, prescribed and not prescribed.
  • Help determine other methods of effective pain relief including use of heat or cold, massage, positioning, distraction, etc.
Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale
0   No Pain
5   Moderate Pain
 10   Worst Possible Pain

Rate Your Pain

On the chart above, indicate how much pain you have.
Your comfort goal is _____________.

From Wong D. L., Hackenberry-Eaton M., Wilson D., Winkelstein M. L., Schwartz P.; Wong’s Essentials of Pediatric Nursing, ed. 6, St. Louis, 2001, p.1301. Copyrighted by Mosby, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

Treatment for Pain

The following methods of pain control may be used, depending on the amount and type of pain that you have.

Medications for pain:

  • Tablets or liquids: usually take about 45-60 minutes to work.
  • Injections or shots: usually take about 30-45 minutes to work.
  • IV or injections into a vein: usually take effect within minutes.
  • PCA or patient controlled analgesia pump: allows you to give yourself medication through your IV in controlled amounts when you experience pain. Takes effect within minutes.
  • Epidural or spinal injections: allows excellent pain relief for certain types of pain including pain with certain surgeries or while delivering a baby.

Other methods of pain relief may work for mild to moderate pain and to help pain medicines work better.

  • Relaxation: such as abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation
  • Hot or cold packs: may relieve certain types of pain—check with your doctor
  • Positioning: may help to relieve pain
  • Distraction: music, TV, or movies may help distract you from the pain
  • Education: by learning what you need to know about managing your pain and working with your doctors and nurses to relieve pain, you can expect to have as comfortable a recovery as possible.