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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PATIENT GOES HOME?

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Sep.03.2020
 Chronic Pain, Adult

Chronic Pain, Adult

Chronic pain is a type of pain that lasts or keeps coming back for at least 3–6 months. You may have headaches, pain in the abdomen, or pain in other areas of the body. Chronic pain may be related to an illness, such as fibromyalgia or complex regional pain syndrome. Chronic pain may also be related to an injury or a health condition. Sometimes, the cause of chronic pain is not known.
Chronic pain can make it hard for you to do daily activities. If not treated, chronic pain can lead to anxiety and depression. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your pain. You may need to work with a pain specialist to come up with a treatment plan. The plan may include medicine, counseling, and physical therapy. Many people benefit from a combination of two or more types of treatment to control their pain.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

  • 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:
    • Requires you to avoid driving or using machinery.
    • Can cause constipation. You may need to take these actions to prevent or treat constipation:
      • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.
      • Take over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
      • Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
      • Limit foods that are high in fat and processed sugars, such as fried or sweet foods.

Treatment plan

Follow your treatment plan as told by your health care provider. This may include:
  • Gentle, regular exercise.
  • Eating a healthy diet that includes foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and lean meats.
  • Cognitive or behavioral therapy that changes the way you think or act in response to the pain. This may help improve how you feel.
  • Working with a physical therapist.
  • Meditation, yoga, acupuncture, or massage therapy.
  • Aroma, color, light, or sound therapy.
  • Local electrical stimulation. The electrical pulses help to relieve pain by temporarily stopping the nerve impulses that cause you to feel pain.
  • Injections. These deliver numbing or pain-relieving medicines into the spine or the area of pain.

Lifestyle

  • Ask your health care provider whether you should keep a pain diary. Your health care provider will tell you what information to write in the diary. This may include when you have pain, what the pain feels like, and how medicines and other behaviors or treatments help to reduce the pain.
  • Consider talking with a mental health care provider about how to manage chronic pain.
  • Consider joining a chronic pain support group.
  • Try to control or lower your stress levels. Talk with your health care provider about ways to do this.

General instructions

  • Learn as much as you can about how to manage your chronic pain. Ask your health care provider if an intensive pain rehabilitation program or a chronic pain specialist would be helpful.
  • Check your pain level as told by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider if you should use a pain scale.
  • It is up to you to get the results of any tests that were done. Ask your health care provider, or the department that is doing the tests, when your results will be ready.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your pain gets worse, or you have new pain.
  • You have trouble sleeping.
  • You have trouble doing your normal activities.
  • Your pain is not controlled with treatment.
  • You have side effects from pain medicine.
  • You feel weak.
  • You notice any other changes that show that your condition is getting worse.

Get help right away if:

  • You lose feeling or have numbness in your body.
  • You lose control of bowel or bladder function.
  • Your pain suddenly gets much worse.
  • You develop shaking or chills.
  • You develop confusion.
  • You develop chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
  • You pass out.
  • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or others.
If you ever feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life, get help right away. Go to your nearest emergency department or:
  • Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
  • Call a suicide crisis helpline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This is open 24 hours a day in the U.S.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 (in the U.S.).

Summary

  • Chronic pain is a type of pain that lasts or keeps coming back for at least 3–6 months.
  • Chronic pain may be related to an illness, injury, or other health condition. Sometimes, the cause of chronic pain is not known.
  • Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your pain.
  • Many people benefit from a combination of two or more types of treatment to control their pain.
  • Follow your treatment plan as told by your health care provider.

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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