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Helping Patients Manage Pain

Health care professionals know that people in their care have experienced some pain or are currently experiencing pain. They learn to look at patients’ and residents’ facial expressions and body language to help them assess whether there is pain and the intensity of the pain. Signs that a patient is experiencing pain are crying, moaning, rocking, wincing, looking worried, being unable to sleep, and not wanting to eat. Elderly patients in particular may not want to report their pain because they think pain naturally comes with aging. They might not want to be a bother or complain too much.

When you are not the one feeling the pain, knowing exactly how much pain a patient is feeling is impossible. If a patient tries to report feeling pain to you, be sure to record it. Some patients with dementia might have trouble telling you about their pain, but encourage them patiently to tell as much as they can.

When recording pain, write down the location of the pain and describe it. Use words like dull, sharp, burning, tingling, throbbing, and squeezing. Also record the intensity of the pain from one (the least) to ten (the worst) and the frequency of the pain. How often does the patient feel the pain? Is the pain constant or intermittent?

Once you have recorded the pain, you can ask the head nurse about treatments. Treatments may include medication, applying heat or an ice pack, massages, changing the position of the body, or making sure the patient gets seven to nine hours of sleep per night. All of these treatments can aid in lessening or relieving the pain that your patients feel. Distractions like TV, music, games, and reading may also help.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners