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Rehabilitative Pain Management


What is rehabilitative pain management?

Rehabilitative pain management includes treatments and therapies to treat pain while you recover from an injury or illness. If pain is not treated, it can decrease your appetite, sleep, and energy. It can also affect your mood and your relationships.

What are the types of pain?

  • Acute pain starts suddenly and lasts a short time. The pain usually goes away as your body heals, but may become chronic if it is not treated.
  • Chronic pain lasts a long time or grows worse. It may last for months or years due to a chronic condition. It may be pain that remains after you have recovered from an injury or illness.

How is pain diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and look for painful areas. He or she may touch or press different places on your body and ask about your pain. You may also need any of the following to check how much pain you have or to find its cause:

  • A pain diary may help to find the cause of your pain. The diary can help you track pain cycles. Include when the pain started, how long it lasted, and how strong it was. Also include anything that made the pain worse or better.
  • Pain scales may help measure how much pain you feel. Pain scales may include numbers or faces. Your healthcare provider may ask you to rate the pain on a scale of 0 to 10.
    Pain Scale

How is pain treated with medicine?

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Narcotics are used for moderate to severe pain.
  • Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Steroids decrease inflammation that causes pain.

How can pain medicine be given?

  • Topical medicine is given as a cream or gel to spread on your skin.
  • Transdermal medicine is given as a patch for your skin. This medicine is released slowly to give pain relief for as long as 72 hours.
  • Oral medicine may be given as a pill, lozenge, or liquid.
  • Intranasal medicine is sprayed into your nose.
  • Rectal medicine may be given as a suppository to put into your rectum.
  • A shot may be given into an IV, a muscle, or under your skin.
  • Patient-controlled analgesia is given through a machine you control by pushing a button. This releases medicine into the catheter.
  • An epidural is medicine given through a catheter (tube) placed into the areas around your spinal cord.
  • A nerve block is given as a shot and put close to the nerves where you have pain. It may be used to decrease short-term pain.

How do I take pain medicine safely?

  • Do not suddenly stop taking narcotic pain medicine. If you have been taking narcotics for longer than 2 weeks, a sudden stop may cause dangerous side effects. Ask your healthcare provider for more information before you stop taking your medicine.
  • Time your medicine correctly. Take your pain medicine 30 minutes before exercise or physical therapy. This helps decrease pain to help meet your treatment goals. You may need to take medicine before you go to bed. This may help you sleep and not be woken by pain.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Take only the amount prescribed or recommended by your healthcare provider. Too much medicine may cause breathing problems or other health issues.
  • Watch for side effects. Some foods, alcohol, and other medicines may cause side effects when you take pain medicine. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent these problems.
  • Prevent constipation. This is a common side effect of prescription pain medicine. Eat foods high in fiber, such as raw fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole-grain bread and cereal. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Exercise and activity may also help decrease the risk for constipation.

What are some other ways to help control pain?

  • Heat and ice help decrease pain. Heat also relieves muscle spasms. Ice may help prevent tissue damage. Your healthcare provider may recommend only heat or ice, or you may be told to alternate. For heat, use a heat pack, heating pad, or a warm washcloth. The temperature should not be hot enough to burn your skin. Apply heat for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. For ice, use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you place it on your skin. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Exercise can help relieve pain and increase your energy. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much exercise to get each day and which exercises are best for you. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
  • Devices help you move and decrease pain. They help you to remove pressure from the injury and provide extra support. Assistive devices include a splint, cane, crutches, or a walker. Knee sleeves and braces help decrease pain by giving your knees extra support. Arch supports and orthotics are devices that are put in your shoes to help you stand, walk, or run correctly.
  • Ultrasound applied to muscles can help decrease pain.
  • Electrical stimulation may be used to control pain. Transcutaneous electrical stimulations (TENS) is a portable, pocket-sized, battery-powered device that attaches to your skin. It uses mild, safe electrical signals to help control pain. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a procedure that uses an electrode (a metal wire) placed near your spinal cord to help control pain. SCS also uses mild, safe electrical signals. The SCS is placed during surgery.
  • Surgery may include cutting nerves or repairing joints that are causing your pain.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • The medicine you are taking makes you sleepier than usual or confused.
  • You have pain even after you take your pain medicine.
  • You have a new pain or the pain seems different than before.
  • You have constipation from prescription pain medicine that is not helped with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.