Under-treated pain may increase patient stays in the hospital or make it difficult for a patient to care for himself/herself and return to optimal functioning. Simply put, being comfortable will help you recover faster.
At St. Francis, we will do all we can to help reduce your pain for a more comfortable recovery. In order for us to best manage your pain, we need you to help us understand it.
The best way for us to know you’re having pain is for you to tell us. We will accept your report of pain and act quickly. Most pain can be managed well. To know how best to treat you, we will ask about your pain—how strong it is, where it hurts, how long you have been hurting, and what makes it better or worse.
Rating Your Pain
Members of your care team will regularly ask you to rate your pain. However, please speak up and let us know any time you have pain.
The most common way to rate pain is to use a scale from zero to ten to describe how strong your pain is. Zero means no pain and ten means the worst possible pain. We can use other pain scales if the numbers scale isn’t right for you.
To help us treat your pain, we will ask you to set a comfort goal. This is the level of pain or pain score that is acceptable to you. A comfort goal is typically a score of less than four on the pain scale. Pain above your comfort goal will keep you from doing things needed to get better such as deep breathing, coughing, moving, and resting. Please report any pain above your comfort goal right away.
Treating Your Pain
Pain medication is one of the most effective ways to relieve pain. Pain medication can be given as a tablet, injection, or through a pain pump, which allows the patient to control when they get medication. Local anesthetics and epidural treatments can also block pain.
Other pain reduction treatments include heat or cold therapy, relaxation techniques, physical therapy, massage, diversions like conversation or movies, and laughter—the best medicine.
We will ask you about your pain level after you receive treatment such as pain medication or an ice pack. We will adjust your medication if your pain score is above your comfort goal. If acceptable pain relief is not reached, we will promptly notify your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the side effects of pain medication?
Not all medications have side effects; however, side effects can include constipation, nausea, vomiting, itching, and sleepiness. We can anticipate side effects and treat them before they are a problem.
Does managing my pain mean all my pain will be gone?
Although most pain can be well managed, it often cannot be removed completely. Our goal is to help you to be as comfortable as possible, especially when moving and doing things you need to do to get better.
Are pain medications bad for me or addictive?
No. Studies show that an addiction is unlikely. This is especially true if you have never had an addiction.
Will pain medication work if I take it for a long time?
After a while, the body gets used to medication. This is called “tolerance.” Over time, you may need more medicine or a different kind of medicine to control your pain. It is also possible that the condition causing your pain may be getting worse. Let your doctor or nurse know what you are feeling.