Pain Assessment - Pharmacology

The most common method used to assess pain is the pain scale. One of the pain scales ranges from zero to 10. Zero is freedom from pain; 10 is the most severe pain. There are a number of variations of this pain scale including the Face Rating Scale and the Color Scale. The face rating scale uses expressions of cartoon faces to assess pain while the color scale uses colors ranging from blue to red where blue is freedom from pain and red is the most severe pain.

In addition to rating the intensity of the patient's pain, you also must assess other characteristics of pain. These are onset, duration, frequency, what started the pain (precipitating cause), and what relieves the pain.

Patients who are in chronic pain should keep a pain diary. A pain diary helps the healthcare professional develop a pain management plan. The patient is asked to keep a timed record of the pain experience to include when the pain starts, what starts it, how bad it is, what relieves the pain, and any other factors that may explain how the patient is responding to the pain. This record can help the healthcare provider and the patient plan effective pain management.

The pain management plan contains both pharmacological and nonpharma-cological strategies for managing the patient’s pain. Pharmacological strategies involve using pain medication. Non pharmacological strategies involve treatments other than medication. These include massage, imagery, music, distraction, humor, acupuncture, chiropractic interventions, hypnosis, herbal therapies, therapeutic touch, and transcutaneous electronerve stimulation. Surgical interventions are also sometimes performed to relieve pain.

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