FAST FACTS: Pain 101
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. There are two main categories of pain: Acute Pain and Persistent or Chronic Pain.
- Has a distinct beginning
- Usually has a known cause
- Short lasting
- Common causes are trauma or postsurgical pain
Persistent or Chronic Pain
- Does not resolve in the expected amount of time
- Often associated with damage to the body and psychological issues
- May occur without any past injury or trauma
- Can vary in character and intensity over time
- Chronic pain occurs at least half of the days for 6 months or more; after 6 months, is it called persistent pain
- To determine the best course of treatment, your loved one’s health care provider will perform a complete evaluation to determine:
- Underlying cause of pain
- Pain characteristics
- Impact of pain on physical, emotional, and social functioning and quality of life
- Your loved one’s report of pain is the most reliable evidence of intensity and impact on function
Your loved one’s health care provider should assess for pain at each visit and use a standard pain scale
- The goal of pain management is to find the correct balance between pain relief, functional impairment, and side effects of any medication used for to treat pain. A combination of drug and nondrug treatments may lower the dose of medications needed and reduce side effects from those medications
Nondrug treatment approaches may include physical and psychosocial therapies.
- Physical Therapy examples: exercise (walking, tai chi, yogi), Acupuncture, TENS, Massage, Heat.
- Psychosocial Therapy examples: Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, Guided Imagery with progressive muscle relaxation, Music, Meditation
What Else You Should Do
- Write down and share information about your loved one’s pain with their healthcare provider
- Use a Pain Diary to note important information useful to the healthcare provider
- Encourage your loved one to try a non-drug treatment and document the impact on their pain in their Pain Diary
- Reuben DB, Herr KA, Pacala JT, et al. Geriatrics At Your Fingertips: 2021, 23rd Edition. New York: The American Geriatrics Society; 2021.
Revised January 2022