Pain Control

Keeping your pain under control is important to your well being. It will help you eat better, sleep better, and move around more easily. If your pain is under control, your visits with family and friends will be more enjoyable.

Ask for help with your pain

Some people feel that they should just put up with pain. They think it is childish to tell anyone about pain or to take medicine for it. Other people don’t want to be a bother. These people tend to say nothing about pain until it is so bad they can’t stand it. This is not a good idea. When pain becomes this bad, it is much harder to control. If you get pain relief before the pain reaches this point, it will take less medicine to make you feel better.

We want you to be as comfortable as possible. The nurses will give you pain medicine as soon as possible after you ask for it.

Several times each day, our staff will ask if you have pain and how bad it is. But you don’t have to wait to be asked. If you need help for pain, tell the nurse right away. Use the call button if you have one.

Tell us about your pain

To help speed your recovery, we ask that you think about your level of pain. The doctors and nurses count on you to tell them how bad the pain is. We cannot measure pain with a test. Instead we will ask that you tell us about your pain in one of the following ways.

Word scale

For some people, it is easiest to tell how bad the pain is by choosing one of five words to describe the pain. These words are:
  • None - Mild - Moderate - Severe - Excruciating (worst pain imaginable)

Zero to 10 pain rating scale

For other people, it is easiest to tell how bad the pain is by using a scale from 0 to 10. On this scale, 0 means no pain at all, and 10 is the worst pain possible.

Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale

With this scale, each face is for a person who feels happy because he has no pain, or sad because he has some pain or a lot of pain. Face 2 hurts just a little bit. Face 4 hurts a little bit more. Face 6 hurts even more. Face 8 hurts a whole lot. Face 10 hurts as much as you can imagine, but you don’t have to be crying to feel this bad. The doctor or nurse will ask you to choose the face that shows how you are feeling.

If medicine does not help

If medicine does not help your pain, or if you are having side effects, please tell your doctor or nurse. Tell us if you:

  • Have stomach ache, nausea, vomiting
  • Feel too sleepy
  • Are constipated
  • Itch all over

Your doctor may order medicines that can help relieve your side effects.

Pain medicines are safe

Pain medicines are safe and helpful when given by doctors and nurses. Some people worry that they will become addicted to the medicine they get for pain. But this almost never happens when these medicines are used for the relief of pain. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you are worried about this.

Some things make pain worse

Pain or discomfort may be greater:

  • After operations (surgery)
  • When doing certain activities
  • During the healing process

Take pain medicine before walking or exercising. The medicine can make that activity less pain¬ful and perhaps help speed your recovery.

Not just medicines

We may use other methods beside pain medicines to help control your pain. These may include:

  • Putting heat or cold on the painful area
  • Mild electrical stimulation of the nerves
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Relaxation techniques

*From Wong DL, Hockenberry-Eaton M, Wilson D, Winkelstein ML, Schwartz P: Wong’s Essentials of Pediatric Nursing, 6/e, St. Louis, 2001, P. 1301. Copyrighted by Mosby, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com