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Managing Your Pain

When to Tell Your Nurse

Due to both your injury and the activity levels required during rehabilitation, you will probably experience some pain during your stay at Mary Free Bed. Our team understands the importance of controlling pain as much as possible. We don’t want your pain to prevent you from participating in therapy.

Please tell your Mary Free Bed nurse or therapist as soon as you experience any level of pain. Pain is actually easier to control when it’s mild. There is no benefit to “toughing it out” or trying to avoid taking pain medication. You should take your pain medicine when you start to notice pain. Waiting too long can make it much harder to control your pain. Your physician, nurses, and therapists will work with you to reduce your pain. However, it is not realistic to expect your pain will be eliminated. Together, we will determine the best pain treatment plan to control your pain as much as possible.

Note: Certain types of pain may indicate an emergency situation. If your pain increases significantly over a short period of time, or if you develop chest pain, please let your nurse, therapist, or physician know immediately.

How to Explain Your Pain

We need your help in understanding the pain you are experiencing. There are three different things we will ask you about your pain:

Pain score: Mary Free Bed uses a pain score of 0 through 10. A score of 0 tells us that you are having no pain. A score of 10 is the worst pain you can imagine. We have two different charts to help you report your pain score. We will ask you to give us a pain score many times each day. We can do a better job of controlling your pain if you are able to give us an accurate assessment of how you are feeling.

Mary Free Bed's pain rating scale graphic

Location of pain: It’s not uncommon to have pain in different areas of your body. Please tell us where your pain is located, as this will help us decide how to treat your pain most effectively.

Type of pain: We will ask you to describe the type of pain you are having. Some good words to describe pain include:

• Sharp    • Achy    • Stabbing    • Dull    • Burning    • Throbbing

Pain Medication

At Mary Free Bed, we give pain medication in pill, liquid, or injection forms – we do not use pain pumps or IV pain medications. In some situations, a medication patch may be used to provide pain relief. We will work with you to find out which type of medication works best for you. Please do not take any medications that you bring from home without informing your physician and your nurses.

Ordering Pain Medication

Your doctor may either order a medication that can be given routinely or on an as-needed basis. When the medication is ordered as needed (the doctor will write this as “prn”), we will not give it to you unless it is needed. If you prefer to be given pain medications on a routine schedule, please ask your nurse or doctor about this.

Frequency of Pain Medication

How often you take your medication is determined by your doctor and by the type of medication you are taking. Some medications may be taken every 3-4 hours, while others are taken every 12 hours or once a day. Please talk with your doctor and nurse to learn about the pain medication(s) that has been ordered for you. At times, more than one medication is ordered, and these can be staggered to provide you with the best pain control.

Timing of Pain Medication

Pain medications will often be given so that they are working best when you are most active. For example, your nurse and therapist will work together to schedule pain medications so that they are given 30-60 minutes before a therapy session. This provides the best pain control while you are in therapy.

Addiction Not Likely

Your physician will order pain medications that he or she feels are safe for you. Research has shown that these medications, taken as prescribed by your physician, are usually not addicting. Instead, they are an important part of the recovery process.

Possible Side Effects

Keep your nurse up-to-date on any side effects you are experiencing.

Nausea
Sometimes pain medicine can upset your stomach. If this occurs, your doctor may change your medication or prescribe another medication to relieve nausea.

Sleepiness
Pain medicine can make you drowsy at first. Often this will decrease after the first few doses. Check with your doctor if your drowsiness lasts longer than a couple of days.

Confusion or Hallucinations
Confusion can mean the amount or type of medicine you are getting needs to be changed. Let your nurse or doctor know if you have problems with confusion.

Constipation
Constipation is a common side effect of some pain medicines. Check with your doctor or nurse about using a laxative or stool softener to prevent constipation.

Alternatives to pain medication

In addition to pain medication, your treatment team will likely try other approaches to control pain. Examples include:

  • Ice packs
  • Adjusting your position while lying or sitting
  • Warm or cold compresses
  • Listening to music
  • Distraction – reading, watching TV
  • Limiting the noise or activity in your room

Your Pain Medications

For your own reference, you or your nurse may make note of the pain medications that your physician has ordered for you. This will help you remember the pain medications that are available for you.

© 2014 Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital., Grand Rapids, MI | 1.855.MFB.REHAB
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