Pain measurement and pain relief during your stay
Do you have a scheduled procedure coming up soon? During your stay, a department nurse will take your vital signs (e.g. blood pressure, temperature, etc.) at regular intervals. One of these parameters is asking about your pain. Post-operative pain or during your hospitalisation negatively impacts your recovery process.
We ask for your help when measuring your pain because you are the one who knows best how to describe the pain you are feeling, where the pain is located and how bad the pain is. Together with the attending physicians, we use this to establish good pain management.
It is often difficult to determine how much pain you have. For this reason, the nurse will ask you to rate your pain with a number between 0 and 10. 0 indicates no pain and 10 indicates absolutely intolerable pain. Given that pain is a personal experience, you can never give an incorrect number to your pain. For children or adults who find it difficult to vocalise their pain, we use an adjusted measurement scale.
Once your pain reaches a 4, the nurse will treat your pain. This may be with adjustments to your medication as per a pre-established schedule set by an attending physician, but it could also be with hot or cold therapy or by adjusting your position.
It is important to know that while you might not be 100% pain-free, the pain should be tolerable. It is important that you tell whether your pain management is not working well, which is why the nurse will be asking you again about your pain. You can let someone know about your pain at any time, not only when we ask you. The longer you wait to tell us about your pain, the more difficult it is to treat your pain.
After an operation
The type of pain relief depends greatly on the type of test or operation that is to be performed and is determined by the anaesthesiologist and/or treating physician. For some, usually for complicated procedures, in addition to administering medication, a pain pump is also used after the intervention. The anaesthesiologist places a thin tube in the back (e.g. epidural), which is then connected to the pump. Anaesthetic medication can be administered in this way, which will temporarily deactivate the nerves and keep you from experiencing pain. After the operation, you will be able to use a button to administer the medication yourself. The nurses will ask you regularly about your pain in order to know when the pain medication can be decreased or stopped.
Besides the epidural, the anaesthesiologist may suggest that a part of the body — the shoulder, for example — be numbed with local anaesthetic. This is called a local nerve block. Depending on the medication, this can provide up to 24 hours of pain relief.
If you still have more questions, please do not hesitate to speak to a nurse.