Determining True Pain Levels To Assist With Proper Treatment
Do you like helping patients with one-on-one care? Does the flexibility and independence of working as a home healthcare professional appeal to you? If your answers are yes, consider advancing your career at Pegasus Home Health Care.
Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in Saugus and elsewhere provide customized assistance that meets individual needs. Many of their elderly clients have medical conditions that result in pain. Our career home health care nurses understand how to determine true pain levels to assist with proper treatment.
Your patient may tell you that something hurts. Or you may notice wincing or other signs of pain when they move. Either way, as their in-home nurse, you’ll need to accurately assess their pain so it can be correctly treated.
What Is Pain?
Although pain is a physical feeling, it’s highly subjective. It can be described as “nothing much” to unbearable and everything in between. Extreme pain in one person might be described as moderate discomfort by another person.
Objectively, experts define pain as “an unpleasant sensation and emotional experience usually caused by tissue damage.” It’s how the body defends itself against more damage. Pain tells an individual to stop whatever they’re doing.
Because you see your patient regularly, you know whether they’re experiencing acute or chronic pain. If it’s acute, questioning them will reveal if they fell or otherwise suffered an injury. It’s usually short-lived, and you can arrange the appropriate care.
Chronic pain more often results from a medical condition and is long-lasting. If you haven’t already, you should learn about all your patient’s diagnoses. You also need to know all their medications and OTC remedies, and why they take each.
You may discover that they’re self-treating their pain. They might be using products, such as NSAIDs, that interfere with prescribed medications. Some may believe pain is part of aging or refuse to treat it for fear of side effects.
Your assessment of their pain requires establishing good communication. Working one-on-one with your patient in their home usually means they trust you. They will potentially confide feelings to you that they don’t tell their families or physicians.
How Do You Assess Pain?
You can reassure your patients that you won’t think they are complaining when you ask about pain. Explain the different kinds of pain. Teach them the basic ways to describe pain, such as:
Combine their description of how the pain feels with your knowledge of their medical conditions. That increases the accuracy of your assessment and points to appropriate treatment.
Almost everyone asked about pain is expected to answer on a scale of one to ten. That has its uses, but it is also limited. Other pain scales are available for your use.
Visual analog scales match the level of pain with pictures rather than numbers. Categorical scales use words to describe pain. You may find it necessary to use more than one.
How To Describe Pain As More Than It Hurts
Your assessment is based on the WILDA technique. WILDA is the acronym for questions you ask your patient to describe their pain. The questions include:
- Words – what does the pain feel like? Answers will enable you to determine if their pain is:
- Intensity – how much does their pain hurt? Asking this over a span of hours or days will indicate if the pain is increasing or diminishing.
- Location – where does it hurt? Also, ask your patient if they have pain in more than one area.
- Duration – are they always in pain, or does it come and go?
- Aggravating or alleviating factors – what makes it hurt more? What makes it hurt less?
It’s essential to keep the patient’s beliefs about pain in mind. You will need to rely on your observations as they answer your questions. In some instances, you might have to deepen your questioning.
Many of your patients can describe their pain accurately. Other patients are unable to provide descriptions because they are cognitively impaired. You may have non-verbal patients, and you may have those who are both cognitively impaired and non-verbal.
The FLACC pain scale can be helpful with those patients. You use it to evaluate:
- Facial expression
- Leg tension or relaxation
- Activity (pain-related movement)
- Consolability (can the individual be comforted?)
You assign points to each category, and the total points determine the pain level. Dozens of others are in use, including NVPS for non-verbal adults. Some home health nurses teach their patients or family caregivers how to keep a pain diary.
Join The Pegasus Team
Pegasus professional in-home caregivers in Saugus and our other locations are advocates for their patients. Their goal is to keep individuals independent and comfortable in their home. Career home health care nurses are experts in determining pain levels to ensure that their patients get appropriate treatment.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. We’ve been helping clients feel respected and safe since 1994. We’re hiring professionals who are dedicated to helping others.