Pain Management

At UNC REX Hospital, we are dedicated to making your stay with us as comfortable as possible. While you are at UNC REX, you have the right to:

  • Receive care from doctors and nurses committed to preventing and managing your pain
  • Expect your doctors and nurses to respond quickly to any report of pain
  • Play an active role in your pain care

Please don’t ignore side effects. Tell your nurse if you feel too sleepy, get constipated, feel sick to your stomach, or start itching, as these may be side effects from your pain medicine. A different pain medicine or dosage can sometimes reduce these side effects.

Talk to Your Doctor About Pain and Pain Management

  • Discuss previous experiences with pain. Talk to your doctor about your experience with different types of pain control. Mention what worked for you and what didn’t.
  • Talk about chronic pain. If you have an ongoing pain condition, it will need to be managed along with any new or acute pain you have while you are in the hospital. Your body may be less sensitive to pain medicine – sometimes called tolerance, if you’ve been taking medicines for chronic pain at home. Discuss this in detail with your doctor before surgery.
  • Make a list of your medications. Include all prescription, over-the-counter medications, and any supplements or herbs you have taken in the past month. Your doctor needs to know about any substance that might interact with pain medications you receive.
  • Be honest about your alcohol and drug use. Tell your doctor if you’re a recovering alcoholic or have a history of other addiction. You will need a plan for pain control that reduces the risk of relapse.
  • If you’re currently misusing alcohol or drugs — even those that have been prescribed for you — let your doctor know. Withdrawing from these substances can be difficult, and should be avoided during your hospitalization.
  • Ask questions. If you are having surgery, ask about how bad the pain is likely to be after this type of surgery and how long it will last. Ask what kind of pain medicines will be given before and after surgery. Ask about likely side effects of these medicines and what can be done to reduce side effects. 
  • Discuss your concerns about pain medications. If you’re afraid of side effects or overdosing on pain medications, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you understand things that can be done to safely manage your pain and reduce side effects and risks for overdose.

How do I report my pain?

Numeric Pain Intensity Scale

While you are recovering, your nurses will ask you to score your pain, using a number from 0-10, with “0” meaning “you have no pain” and “10” means you are having “the worst pain you ever had or can imagine.” Rating your pain with a number helps the nurses know how well your pain is being managed.

Controlling Your Pain

Pain can be controlled with medicine, treatments, or a combination of both.

Examples include:

  • Pain medication taken orally
  • Position change 
  • Intravenous (IV) pain medication
  • Heat and cold compresses
  • PCEA (patient controlled epidural analgesia)
  • Relaxation/Meditation/Prayer
  • PCA (patient controlled analgesia)
  • Stretching/walking/exercise
  • Epidural analgesia
  • Attention to sleep
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Palming

There are limits and side effects of pain treatment. Your doctor or nurse will discuss these with you. Pain treatment will continue to be important in your recovery after you return home. Contact your doctor immediately if your pain is not well controlled, or if you are having problems following your pain treatment plan.

It is important to remember, most side effects from pain medicine like nausea, drowsiness and itching can be managed. Constipation can usually be managed with laxatives, drinking lots of fluids and eating the right foods. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any of these side effects.

For more information of if you have any questions, call our Rex Perioperative Planning Center at 919-784-3102.

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