Tips on Managing Pain
Early treatment for pain is always more effective. As an active participant in your health care, you can take the following steps:
- Inform your doctor or nurse that you are experiencing pain. Don’t wait to be asked! Pain should be evaluated at every visit.
- Keep a diary of your pain – where it is, when it begins, when it peaks, when you take medications, and what helps relieve the pain.
- Be precise when describing your pain. Use words like sharp, radiating, aching, pounding, prickly, tight, deep, stabbing, dull, pinching, and tingly.
- Report the severity of your pain. On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine, how would you rate it?
- Take your medication exactly as prescribed. You may be taking several medications. Be sure you understand when and how to take them, and report any side effects – they can be helped.
- Know how to reach your doctor or nurse after hours, and when you should contact them. For example, severe pain should be reported right away, not at your next appointment.
- Take medication before pain builds up. Pain control is harder to achieve if it is allowed to build to a severe level.
- Use the same pharmacy. They will know what pain medicines to keep on hand and can answer questions about the medicines and side effects.
- Consider non-drug interventions that might help you, including distracting yourself, relaxation techniques, use of heat and cold, massage, and light exercise.
- Consult members of your health care team (nurse, social worker, and physical therapist) for help in these areas.
The Most Important Thing to Remember: Pain Can Be Relieved.
There are many options for you and your doctor to choose from when trying to control your pain, such as different dosages, medication combinations, changing medications, or routes of administration.
If one is not working, communicate with your doctor and find about the other choices you have. Remember that you are the expert on your pain, and you have the right to have your pain acknowledged and relieved.
By following these strategies, you and your health care team can become effective partners against pain.