How to Manage Your Pain

When should I call for help?

Mountain States HomeCare has developed this education brochure to help you learn about pain control. We encourage you and your family to read this information. If you have any questions, please ask your nurse or doctor.

Pain is Different for Everyone

Pain is very personal and is different for everyone. No two people experience pain in the same way. One person may feel pain more quickly and more intensely than another individual. Whatever the case may be, the most important thing is that people who suffer pain know how to describe the pain and be able to play a vital role in helping to manage the pain.

There are Two Types of Pain

Acute pain, for instance, a cut, a small burn or a sprained ankle. This type of pain may be intense and does not last a long time.
Chronic pain, such as back pain, arthritis or cancer pain, lasts for longer periods of time and may range from mild to severe.

Speak up about Pain

To get help with relieving pain, it is important that you tell your doctor or nurse what you are feeling. Don't think that you are not being a good patient, or that you are a weak person when discussing your pain. If you don't tell, how will we know? Describe your pain as well as you can. Don't make light of it, but don't exaggerate. Research has shown that treating pain promotes the well-being of the whole person.

How to describe your pain:

  • What does the pain feel like? Is it sharp, dull, throbbing, burning, tingling?
  • Where is the pain located?
  • Is it constant, or does it come and go?
  • How much pain do you feel on a scale from zero to 10 with zero being no pain, and 10 being the worst possible pain you can imagine?

Take Control of Your Pain

Pain is easier to manage when it is mild. Severe pain can be difficult to bring under control. There is no need to suffer when suffering can be avoided. While pain cannot always be completely relieved, it can be managed to such a degree that you will be able to enjoy life more fully. Please understand that medications take time to work. Hours may be needed for full effect.

Types of Pain Medications

There are many different types of pain medications. Your doctor will order the best medication, or combination of medications, for your type of pain. Please let your doctor or caregiver know if your pain is not getting better.

Side Effects

All medications cause side effects; some are mild and not noticed. If you develop side effects, notify your nurse or doctor. Side effects may include drowsiness, sleepiness, nausea and vomiting. This may happen when you first start to take medicines and usually wears off after a short period of time. You may be constipated during the time you are taking the medicine. Drink liquids and take a stool softener if needed. Skin rashes and itching, caused by an allergic reaction to pain medicine, may also occur.
We hope the above information about different forms of pain treatments has been helpful. If you have further questions, be sure to ask your doctor, nurse or other healthcare providers responsible for your care.

Rights of Patient with Pain

  • I have the right to have my reports of pain accepted and acted on by healthcare professionals.
  • I have th eright to have my pain assessed on an individual basis.
  • I have th eright to have my pain controlled, no matter what its cause or how severe it may be.
  • I have the right to be treated with compassion and respect when I need medication.

Intensity Scale: 0-10

Location: Where is your pain?

Duration and Intensity: How long has the pain been there or does it come and go?

Precipitating and Alleviating Factors: What makes the pain better?  What makes the pain worse?

Pain Assessment Will Include:

Patient Description:

aching tiring gnawing stabbing numb burning
tender dull radiating crampy throbbing deep
shooting sharp squeezing nagging unbearable pressure

When Should I Call For Help?

What to do? Call My Home Health Agency When: Call 911 When:

 I have Diabetes and I'm...

  • Thirsty or hungry more than usual
  • Urinating a lot
  • Vision is blurred
  • I'm feeling weak
  • My skin is dry and itchy
  • Repeated blood sugars greater than 250 mg/dl

  • Shaky
  • Sweating
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Hungry
  • Have a headache
  • Confusion
  • Heart is beating fast
  • Trouble Thinking
  • Confused or irritable
  • Vision is difficult
  • Repeated blood sugars less than 90 mg/dl

Take: 3 glucose tablets, OR 1/2 glass of juice, OR 5-6 pieces of hard candy, OR:

Wait: 15 minutes & re-check blood sugar

IF your blood sugar is still low and symptoms do not go away:

Eat a light snack: 1/2 peanut butter OR meat sandwich, 1/2 glass of milk

Wait: 15 minutes and re-check blood sugar

  • Fruity breath
  • Nausea/throwing up
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood sugar greater than 400 mg/dl 


  • Low blood sugar not responding to treatment
  • Unable to treat low blood sugar at home
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures

 Other problems

  • Feeding tube clogged
  • Problems with my IV/site

Wound VACS

Wound Vascare used to treat some wounds.

Occasionally the dressing seal makes a noise.

Call the office.  You may be instructed to turn the vac off until morning or until the nurse arrives.


I hurt

  • New pain OR pain is worse than usual
  • Unusual bad headache
  • Ears are ringing
  • My blood pressure is above: 160/90
  • Unusual low back pain
  • Chest pain or tightness of chest relieved by rest or medication
  • Severe or prolonged pain
  • Pain/discomfort in neck, jaw, back, one or both arms or stomach
  • Chest discomfort with sweating/nausea
  • Sudden, severe, unusual headache
  • Sudden chest pain or pressure & medications don't help (e.g. Nitroglycerin as ordered by a physician) OR
  • Chest pain went away and came back

I have trouble breathing

  • Cough is worse
  • Harder to breathe when I lie flat
  • Chest tightness RELIEVED by rest or medication
  • My inhalers don't work
  • Changed color, thickness, odor of sputum (spit)
  • I can't breathe!
  • My skin is gray OR fingers/lips are blue
  • Fainting
  • Frothy sputum (spit)

I have fever or chills

  • Fever is above 100.5 F
  • Chills/can't get warm
  • Fever is above 103 F with chills, confusion or difficulty concentrating

Trouble moving or fell

  • Dizziness or trouble with balance
  • Fell and hurt myself
  • Fell but didn't hurt myself
  • Fell and have severe pain

I see blood

  • Bloody, cloudy or change in urine color or foul odor
  • Gums, nose, mouth or surgical site is bleeding
  • Unusual bruising
  • Bleeding that won't stop
  • Bleeding with confusion, weakness, dizziness and fainting
  • Throwing up bright red blood or it looks like coffee grounds

Trouble thinking

  • Confused
  • Restless, agitated
  • Can't concentrate
  • Sudden difficulty speaking

My weight or appetite changed

  • I don't have an appetite
  • Lost 5 lbs in 3 days
  • Gained 3 lbs in 1 day OR 5 lbs in 2 days
  • Feet/ankles/legs are swollen

I don't feel right

  • Weaker than usual
  • Dizzy, light headed, shaky
  • Very tired
  • Heart fluttering, skipping or racing
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg
  • Sudden difficulty speaking/slurred words
  • Suddenly can't keep my balance

I feel sick to my stomach

  • Throwing up
  • New coughing at night
  • Can't stop throwing up
  • Throwing up blood

Bowel Troubles

  • Diarrhea
  • Black/dark OR bloody bowel movement
  • No bowel movement in 3 days
  • No colostomy ileostomy output in 12 hours

Trouble urinating

  • Leaking catheter
  • No urine from catheter in 6 hours
  • Have not passed water in 12 hours
  • Urine is cloudy
  • Burning feeling while urinating
  • Belly feels swollen or bloated

I am anxious or depressed

  • Always feeling anxious
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of hope
  • Constant sadness
  • I have a plan of hurting myself or someone else

My wound changed

  • Change in drainage amount, color or odor
  • Increase of pain at wound site
  • New skin problem
  • Fever is above 100.5 F
  • Fever is above 103 F with chills, confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Bleeding that won't stop