Pain management

We care about your pain. By telling us about your pain you can help us to manage it better and make your recovery faster and as pain-free as possible.

Tell us about your pain

We need you to tell us how you feel and the strength of your pain. You will be asked on a regular basis to rate your pain so that we know how you are feeling and what is working best for you.

Rating your pain

Most hospitals use pain scales to score and understand the degree of a patient's pain. The most commonly used scale at our hospital is the numerical rating scale. We will ask you to rate your pain out of 10.

Pain is verbally scored on a scale, from zero to 10, with zero being 'no pain' and 10 being 'worst pain ever'. You will be asked to rate your pain while you are resting and then after moving or coughing to understand if that makes a difference to your score. This scale is not appropriate for everyone in every clinical situation.

Another common scale used is a 'pain ruler', which is used by indicating with your finger or a sliding pointer along the scale to indicate how much pain you are feeling.

This image shows the pointer almost to the smiling face at the left of the ruler and represents a rating of not much pain at all.



This image shows the pointer almost to grimacing face at the right of the ruler and represents a rating of quite a lot of pain.
Where is your pain and what it's like

Pain from different parts of the body comes from different causes. Knowing where your pain is coming from and how it feels (aching, burning, stabbing) helps us to give you the best treatment.

When to ask for pain relief

It is important that you to ask for pain relief before the pain becomes too strong or before doing things such as showering and physiotherapy.

Nursing staff will also be assessing your pain and offering pain relief regularly.

It is usually enough to have regular low-dose pain relief such as paracetamol. This can prevent needing stronger pain relief, which may have more side effects.

Remember to tell your nurse or doctor about any pain that doesn't get better, even after having pain medicine and also any side effects that you have from the pain relief.

If you are taking painkillers on a regular basis, you must let your doctor know. It is also important that you let your doctor know about any other medication you are taking. This will ensure you get the treatment that is best suited to you.

Pain treatment options

Your pain may be treated in a number of ways – what works best for you will be decided by you and your health care team, and based on the location and type of pain that you have. 

Some options include:

  • tablets that you swallow
  • occasional injections
  • continuous drip containing pain medicine
  • patient controlled analgesia (PCA) – small doses of pain medicine controlled by you
  • local anaesthetics given near your wound that block the feeling of pain
  • epidural pain medicine given into your back that blocks pain over your wound
  • special ways you can move or cough to minimise discomfort.
Painkillers and side effects

Using painkillers to ease short-term pain is not addictive. However, all medications may produce side effects, so you must tell the medical staff if you feel sick or very sleepy after taking pain medication.

If you have additional questions about managing pain, ask your nurse or doctor on admission.