Managing Your Pain
We are committed to minimizing the pain of those we serve.
What is Pain?
Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong in your body. Pain is your body's way of sending a warning to your brain.
Your nurses and doctors will ask you about your pain because they want you to be comfortable, and because they want to know if something is wrong. Be sure to tell your doctor and nurses when you have pain so they can work with you to manage your pain, establish your pain management plan, and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Why Manage Pain?
- To increase your comfort.
- To help you heal faster.
- To help you move better and feel stronger.
- To shorten your recovery time.
How Can Pain be Managed?
Medicine: Pain medicine may be given several ways. These include: by mouth (liquid or pills); by adhesive skin patches; by injection (shot) into arm or leg; or by injection into a vein (intravenous or IV). Pain medicine may be given continuously, at regularly scheduled times throughout the day, or as needed when you ask for it. Talk to your nurse or doctor about which method will work best for you.
Other ways of managing pain: Other things can also be effective in relieving pain when used alone or with medicines. You may wish to learn more about:
- Your illness, injury or surgery.
- Relaxation techniques to help you reduce stress that can cause tight muscles and increase pain.
- Distractions that use your sense of hearing, seeing, touch and movement to focus attention on something other than pain. One effective distraction is music.
- Massage to soothe your skin and relax tense muscles.
- Hot or cold packs to the skin. Cold may reduce muscle spasms, reduce swelling or help stop the need to scratch areas that itch. Heat may reduce soreness, decrease sensitivity to pain or relieve joint stiffness.
What Can You do to Manage Your Pain?
- Ask your doctor or nurse what to expect from your illness, injury or surgery and what to expect from hospitalization.
- Discuss your pain control plan with your doctors and nurses. Tell the doctor what medicine has worked well, or not so well, in the past.
- If your pain medicine is ordered on an as-needed basis, ask for it as soon as the pain starts. It is harder to decrease pain once it has taken hold.
- If your pain medicine is not working, tell your nurse or doctor.
- Use distractions to take your mind off the pain. Try watching TV, reading, listening to music or listening to meditation tapes.
- Ask your nurse or doctor if hot packs or cold packs would be helpful.
- Use relaxation exercises like jaw relaxation or slow rhythmic breathing.
Prayer and meditation can be helpful for some people. Spiritual Care chaplains are available on request to listen to your feelings and concerns. Prayers and meditation tapes are available through Spiritual Care.
Pain Rating Scale
You will be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, or you may choose a word that best describes the pain.
You will also be asked to set a pain control goal (such as having no pain that's worse than 3 on the scale).
Reporting your pain as a number helps the doctors and nurses know how well your treatment is working and whether to make any changes.
Your comfort is important to us. Please tell your nurses, therapists and doctors when you have pain.
Patient's Pain Care Bill of Rights
The patient receiving pain care at St. Joseph Health - Sonoma County has the right to:
- Describe his or her pain with the expectation that the description will be believed and respected as the best indicator of his or her pain.
- Be apprised of all information and options in order to be an active participant in the development, implementation, evaluation, and revision of his or her pain care plan.
- Receive pain care that is administered with respect and dignity by competent professionals who consider each patient to be a unique individual worthy of compassionate care.
- Expect that all reasonable safety and security measures will be taken in the provision of pain care services.
- Receive pain care that is monitored and evaluated on an on-going basis to continually improve the quality of care delivered.
- Request review of alternative pain care approaches and refuse or request revision of the current pain care plan without fear of reprisal.