Ochsner is committed to helping patients feel more comfortable. While patients should not expect to feel excessive pain, a certain amount of discomfort is a normal part of recovery from surgery, illness and injury. The amount and type of discomfort is related to the type of surgery or illness. The important thing to remember is that all staff members of Ochsner Health System are dedicated to helping patients feel more comfortable.
We believe that managing pain is an important part of the medical care we provide, no matter where you are in the hospital. With today’s treatments, most pain – regardless of type and amount – can be well controlled. When pain is well controlled, you can be more active; sleep and eat better; and feel more positive. If you are recovering from surgery, controlling pain can help you get well faster.
What exactly is pain?
Pain is now referred to as the body’s fifth vital sign. Pain is your body’s way of responding to injury, illness or stress. Such things as stress or anxiety may increase the pain you feel. The following are some terms you may hear your healthcare professional use when talking about pain. Pain may be chronic, like the pain caused by arthritis or cancer, and persist for months or years. It may be acute, such as the pain associated with the normal recovery process from surgery. This pain varies with the type of operation, and while intense, will gradually lessen as the body heals. Breakthrough pain is an unpredictable episode of severe pain not controlled by the patient’s current pain regimen. Finally, pathologic pain is more severe pain than would be expected for the illness being treated. It may indicate a complication or the occurrence of a different medical problem.
What types of pain can be treated?
Our specialized team treats a broad range of pain, including that caused by:
- Low back pain/injury
- Neck pain/injury
- Sports related injury
- Cancer related pain
- Work related injury
- Back pain after surgery
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Post laminectomy syndrome
- Chronic headaches
- Spinal facet syndrome
- Vertebral compression fractures
- General neuropathy
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Postherpetic neuralgia/shingles
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Other chronic pain syndromes
What role do patients play in pain management?
Only you know when you are hurting and what kind of pain you are experiencing. Doctors and nurses will work with you to assess your level of pain. Patients must tell their healthcare professional if they have pain. Some patients, including infants and small children, may not be able to say they are feeling pain. Healthcare professionals will work with parents and families to look for non-verbal clues to ensure that the patient is made comfortable. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you have. Tell a staff member if you have taken medication and it is not working. Doctors and nurses need to know as much information as possible.
- Where is the pain located?
- Is the pain sharp, achy or dull?
- How long did it last?
- What have you taken or done that brings relief or eases pain?
- How does the pain affect your daily life and your family’s life?
- When should you ask for pain medication?
- When did it start?
- What makes it better or worse?
Tell your doctor or nurse when you feel you need treatment for pain. The best way to control pain is to address it as soon as you begin to hurt. Although all surgical procedures are associated with varying amounts of discomfort, don’t try to be brave and put up with pain or wait, hoping it will go away. Being anxious, afraid or tired can make pain worse. If you experience pain, you should ask for medication. It may be necessary to take pain medicine at regular intervals to better manage pain. Research has shown that treating pain promotes the well being for the whole person.
How can you help manage pain?
Pain medicine often works better when taken on a regular schedule rather than “as needed” in response to discomfort. Also, if you know that pain may worsen with an activity, take medication first to prevent discomfort. Your nurse may be able to assist you with other pain relief measures, such as breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, positioning, splinting, and so forth.
Pain Management Institute
Ochsner Baptist Medical Center
2700 Napoleon Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
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