Managing Acute and Chronic Pain
Your body "communicates" about an injury, illness or a medical condition using pain. It is your body's way of sending you a message that something needs attention.
There are generally two kinds of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain is not long lasting. Your physician will help determine the source of pain and control or stop the pain with a customized treatment plan. Chronic pain is long lasting and more challenging to manage. Arthritis is an example of chronic pain.
Managing your pain is important to making you comfortable and helps the healing process following injury or surgery. To better manage your pain, it is important to tell your physician where the pain is and to describe the pain you feel - sharp, dull, aching, burning, cramping or throbbing. Also note when the pain starts, how often you experience the pain and how long it lasts.
Proliance Orthopedic Associates uses a pain management scale to help patients identify the severity of their pain. A rating of zero on the scale indicates no pain. A rating of 10 means the worst pain possible. By using this scale to identify pain levels, your physician is better able to make decisions on how to best manage any pain.
MANAGING PAIN AFTER SURGERY
Successfully managing your pain after surgery is essential to the healing process. While recovering from surgery at home closely follow the care instructions you received, along with these guidelines:
- Take your prescribed pain medications early, at the first signs of discomfort. Pain pills may take up to one hour to reach their full effect, which is a long time when you are hurting.
- Take any pain medication, prescription or over-the-counter, with food. Even a few crackers will coat your stomach and help avoid the misery of nausea or vomiting.
- Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil or Motrin) is an effective pain reliever and may be used in addition to your prescribed medications. In most cases, you may take up to 800 milligrams up to three times a day - most tablets are 200 milligrams each, so you would take four tablets to equal 800 milligrams. Consult your physician if you have any questions or concerns, or if your pain causes you to take the ibuprofen for more than five days.
- Take your medications at regular intervals during the night, even if it means setting an alarm clock. Because of your body's need to rest following surgery, you may not awaken until your pain is severe. By this time, the pain medication will have completely left your system and will take time to build up again. The severe pain may cause you to become nauseous. To avoid this cycle, for the first two days following surgery we suggest taking pain medications on a routine basis.
- Dizziness is a normal side-effect following surgery and from pain medication. Get up slowly and cautiously, sitting on the edge of your bed or chair for a minute or two before standing.
- The day after your surgery is usually the toughest. As your body heals, the pain will decrease. As your healing progresses, you may be able to reduce the dosage of your medications - taking one pill instead of two, for example. Decreasing your dosage as you feel your pain subsiding is strongly recommended.
- Pain medications may cause constipation. Drinking plenty of fluids helps. If needed, you may take a stool softener or laxative.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pain while you are recovering from surgery, do not hesitate to call your orthopedic surgeon.