Pain Control

woman in hospital bed

At Owensboro Health, our goal is to manage your pain during your stay. Everyone’s pain perspective is different; therefore, we individualize pain management for each patient. Our staff is committed to keeping you as comfortable as possible by using the most effective measures for your situation.

Setting A Pain Goal

Your nurses will ask you to set a “goal” or an acceptable pain rating. This should be a level of comfort that will allow you to do the activities that you need to perform to recover. For example, you want to be able to cough and deep breathe, eat, sleep and move about (walk or sit in a chair) as your doctor has ordered. If you are admitted, your nurse will write your pain level, pain goal, and when your next pain medication dose is due on your white board.

Pain Rating

pain scale faces

The first step in our treatment process is to assess your pain level. To do this, nursing staff will ask you to help them understand how much pain you are experiencing by using a Pain Rating Scale. When you are admitted, and at least once every 8-12 hours, your nurses will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of zero to ten. A zero means that you are having no pain at all, and a ten is the worst pain you have ever felt.

Methods Of Pain Medications

Medications Tablet Or Liquid 

Medicines Given By Mouth

Benefits: Tablets and liquids cause less discomfort than injections into muscle or skin, but they can work just as well. They are inexpensive, simple to give, and easy to use at home.

Risks: These medicines cannot be used if nothing can be taken by mouth or if you are nauseated or vomiting. There may be a delay in pain relief; also, these medicines take time to wear off.

Injections Into Skin Or Muscle 

Benefits: Medicine given by injection into skin or muscle is effective even if you are nauseated or vomiting; such injections are simple to give.

Risks: The injection site is usually painful for a short time. Medicines given by injection are more expensive than tablets or liquids and take time to wear off. Pain relief may be delayed while you ask the nurse for medicine and wait for the shot to be drawn up and given.

Injections Into Vein

Pain relief medicines are injected into a vein through a small tube, called an intravenous (IV) catheter. The tip of the tube stays in the vein.

Benefits: Medicines given by injection into a vein are fully absorbed and act quickly. This method is well suited for relief of brief episodes of pain.

Risks: A small tube must be inserted in a vein.

Patient controlled analgesia (PCA): With PCA, you control when you get pain medicine. When you begin to feel pain, you press a button to inject the medicine through the intravenous (IV) tube in your vein.

Local Anesthetics

These drugs (for example, bupivacaine) are given, either near the incision or through a small tube in your back, to block the nerves that transmit pain signals.

Benefits: Local anesthetics are effective for severe pain. Injections at the incision site block pain from that site. There is little or no risk of drowsiness, constipation, or breathing problems. Local anesthetics reduce the need for opioid use.

Risks: Repeated injections are needed to maintain pain relief. An overdose of local anesthetic can have serious consequences. Average doses may cause some patients to have weakness in their legs or dizziness.

Non-Drug Pain Relief Methods

There are also some “non-pharmaceutical” ways to help reduce pain.

  • Relaxation exercises: Slow, deep breathing or muscle tightening & relaxing
  • Cold packs, heat packs, or massage
  • Music therapy: listen to your favorite music

Patient Responsibilities

man in hospital bed

  • Ask your doctor or nurse what to expect regarding pain and pain management
  • Discuss pain relief options with your doctor and nurse
  • Work with your doctor and nurse to develop a pain management plan
  • Ask for pain relief when pain first begins
  • Help your doctor and nurse assess your pain
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if your pain is not relieved
  • Tell your doctor or nurse about any worries you have about taking pain medication.