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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PATIENT GOES HOME?

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May.04.2020
 Acute Pain, Adult

Acute Pain, Adult

Acute pain is a type of sudden pain that may last for just a few days or for as long as six months. It is often related to an illness, injury, or medical procedure. Acute pain may be mild, moderate, or severe.
Pain can make it hard for you to do your normal, daily activities. It can cause anxiety and lead to other problems if it is left untreated. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your pain. Acute pain usually goes away once your injury has healed or you are no longer ill.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Take the lowest dose of medicine for the shortest amount of time needed to relieve the pain.
  • If you are taking prescription pain medicine:
    • Do not stop taking the medicine suddenly. Talk to your health care provider about how and when to discontinue prescription medicine.
    • Do not take more pills than told by your health care provider even if your pain is severe.
    • Do not take other over-the-counter pain medicines in addition to prescription pain medicine unless told by your health care provider.
    • Ask your health care provider if the medicine requires you to avoid driving or using heavy machinery.
    • Ask your health care provider if the medicine can cause constipation. You may need to take these actions to prevent or treat constipation:
      • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.
      • Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
      • Take over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
      • Limit foods that are high in fat and processed sugars, such as fried or sweet foods.

Managing pain, stiffness, and swelling


If directed, put ice on the affected area. To do this:
  • Put ice in a plastic bag.
  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.
  • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times a day.
If directed, apply heat to the affected area as often as told by your health care provider. Use the heat source that your health care provider recommends, such as a moist heat pack or a heating pad.
  • Place a towel between your skin and the heat source.
  • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
  • Remove the heat if your skin turns bright red. This is especially important if you are unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. You may have a greater risk of getting burned.

Activity

  • Rest as told by your health care provider.
  • Return to your normal activities as told by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.

General instructions

  • Check your pain level as told by your health care provider.
  • Ask your health care provider if other strategies such as distraction, relaxation, or physical therapies can help your pain.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your pain is not controlled by medicine.
  • Your pain does not improve or gets worse.
  • You have side effects from pain medicines, such as vomiting or confusion.

Get help right away if you:

  • Have severe pain.
  • Have trouble breathing.
  • Lose consciousness.
  • Have chest pain or pressure that lasts for more than a few minutes, or if you have other symptoms along with chest pain, including if you:
    • Have pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
    • Have shortness of breath.
    • Break out in a cold sweat.
    • Feel nauseous.
    • Become light-headed.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • Acute pain may be mild, moderate, or severe. It usually goes away once your injury has healed or you are no longer ill.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Ask your health care provider if the medicine prescribed to you can cause constipation.
  • Contact a health care provider if your pain is not controlled by medicine.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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