According to International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.” Pain can range from tolerable to debilitating and can be described as sharp, shooting, throbbing, pinching, stinging, burning or sore. Pain can be constant, occasional or intermittent.
Everyone responds to pain differently, with some having a high tolerance for pain, while others a low tolerance. It is highly subjective; pain is what the person says it is. Many patients in the post-acute, long-term care setting have limited ability to report and describe pain. There may be significant gender or cultural differences in attitudes toward and ability or willingness to acknowledge pain.
Some Definitions of Pain
- A basic bodily sensation that is induced by a noxious stimulus, is received by naked nerve endings, is associated with actual or potential tissue damage, is characterized by physical discomfort (such as pricking, throbbing or aching), and typically leads to evasive action.
- An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild localized discomfort to agony.
- An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.
What are the Types of Pain?
Acute: Acute pain is defined as lasting less than three months. It is a neurophysiological response to an injury that should resolve with normal healing. Some examples of injuries that cause acute pain include post-operative, fractured bones, appendicitis and soft tissue injury. There is also a type of pain characterized as subacute. This pain tends to be present for approximately six weeks but less than three months. An example of this type of pain is a sprained ankle or tear.
Chronic: “Chronic pain is defined as pain of any etiology not directly related to neoplastic involvement, associated with a chronic medical condition or extending in duration beyond the expected temporal boundary of tissue injury and normal healing, and adversely affecting the function or well-being of the individual — causing debility of the patient,” according to the IASP. One thing noted with chronic pain is that pain-free is not usually obtainable. With chronic pain, each person creates an acceptable pain level and attempts to keep pain at that level or below. From the IASP: “In order to manage chronic pain, there needs to be goals set to finding a tolerable level of pain for that patient, of enhance functional abilities and physical and psychologic well-being; enhance the quality of life of residents and minimize adverse outcomes.”
Comagine Health Resource to Review
This resource is a method to help manage residents’ pain, allowing options to be incorporated into their day-to-day decisions to help make them comfortable. The COMFORT menu uses alternative options to attempt pain management before taking a prescribed medication.