Developing a Pain Management Plan: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Some diseases and injuries can cause pain that lasts a long time. You don't need to live with uncontrolled pain. A pain management plan helps you find ways to control pain with side effects you can live with.

There are things you can do to help with pain. Only you know how much pain you feel. Constant pain can make you depressed. It can cause stress and make it hard for you to eat and sleep. But there are ways to control the pain. They can help you stay active, improve your mood, and heal faster.

Your plan can include many types of pain control. You may take prescription or over-the-counter drugs. You can also try physical treatments and behavioural methods. Some medical treatments also help with pain. For example, radiation can be used to reduce pain from bone cancer.

You and your doctor will work to make your plan. Be sure to read it often. Change it if your pain is not under control.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Physical treatments

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it exactly as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your pain medicine causes side effects such as constipation or nausea, you may need to take other medicines for those problems. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you have.
  • Hot or cold compresses applied directly to the skin can help sore muscles. Put ice or a cold pack on the painful area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. You may find that it helps to switch between cold and heat. Try a heating pad set on low or a warm cloth on the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
  • Hydrotherapy uses flowing water to relax muscles. You may want to sit in a hot tub or a steam bath. Or use a shower or a sitz bath to help your pain.
  • Massage therapy is rubbing the soft tissues of the body. It eases tension and pain. It also improves blood flow and helps you relax.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses a gentle electric current applied to the skin for pain relief. You can use TENS at home after you learn how.
  • Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It uses very thin needles inserted into certain points of the body. It is done by a person with special training (acupuncturist).
  • If you get physiotherapy, make sure to do any home exercises or stretching your therapist has prescribed.
  • Stay as active as you can. Try to get some physical activity every day.

Behavioural treatments

  • Biofeedback teaches you to control a body function that you normally don't think about. These are things like skin temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. At first, you will use a machine to give you feedback on the function you want to control. Then a therapist will teach you what to do next. Over time, you can stop using the machine.
  • Breathing techniques can help you relax and get rid of tension.
  • Guided imagery is a series of thoughts and images that can focus your attention away from your pain. When you do it, you use all your senses to help your body respond as though what you are imagining is real.
  • Hypnosis is a state of focused concentration that makes you less aware of your surroundings. It may cause your brain to release chemicals that relieve pain. You can have a therapist help you through hypnosis. Or you can learn to use it on yourself.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of counselling. It helps you change your thought patterns. Changes in your thoughts can help change your behaviour and the way you perceive your body.

Other treatments and ideas

  • Aromatherapy uses the scent of oils obtained from plants to help you relax or to relieve stress.
  • Meditation focuses your attention to give a clear awareness of your life. You sit quietly, focus on one image or sound, and breathe deeply.
  • Yoga uses stretching and exercises (called postures) to reduce stress and improve flexibility and health.
  • Keep track of your pain in a pain diary. This can help you understand how the things you do affect your pain.
  • In rare cases, your doctor may advise you to get a nerve block to help with pain. A nerve block is a shot of medicine to interrupt pain signals to your brain.
  • Some hospitals have special pain clinics or centres. Your doctor may refer you to a pain clinic or centre. Or you can ask your doctor about them.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: October 9, 2017