Pain Management While in the Recovery Room

One of the primary goals of the recovery room registered nurse is to make you comfortable, as quickly as possible. There are several things which you may do to hasten this.

  • Speak to your anesthesiologist prior to surgery concerning your pain treatment while in the recovery room.
  • Discuss with your surgeon/anesthesiologist the options available for pain treatment and when each option would be appropriate.

Common Pain Relief Options

1. Administration of nonsteriodal ant-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and others on a round the clock schedule.

2. Patient controlled analgesia (PCA): self-medication with intravenous dosages of an opioid, usually morphine, fentanyl, meperidine, or hydromorphone.

3. Epidural analgesia: medicine is injected through an epidural catheter by the anesthesiologist. This medicine may be given as a single dose, supplied continuously or given intermittently. The medicine may be an opioid and/or a local anesthetic such as lidocaine or Ropivacaine. Often provides complete or almost complete pain relief.

4. Local Analgesia: medicine is injected into the painful area. This may be done as a single dose ,supplied continuously or given intermittently. Often provides complete or almost complete pain relief.

5. Intermittent dosages of opioids and/or NSAIDs given by the nurse on a scheduled around-the-clock administration.

6. The use of ice and heat packs to relieve pain.

What Else Will Make Me More Comfortable?

  • Become familiar with the type of pain scale you can use to best describe your pain .
  • If your surgery is a day surgery and you are going home afterwards, have your surgeon or physician give you prescriptions for pain relievers and other needed medications prior to the surgery day, so that you will have them available when you need them.
  • Relaxation exercises and distraction techniques such as might be provided by headphones and music may provide some relief.

Patient Controlled Analgesia

This involves self medication by pushing a button, which then releases a preset dose of medication through your intravenous line. The amount of medication you can receive and the amount of time that is required before your button will work again are set by the ordering physician. These settings make it a very safe and yet effective for relieving your pain. You also should have available additional medications that your nurse can give you if needed. PCA recognizes the principals that you best know how much pain you are having and that you know if you want pain medication for that pain.

Pain Scales

The University of Virginia Health Sciences Center generally uses two types of pain scales. One is a facial scale, consisting of facial expressions ranging from no pain to agonizing pain. You then pick the facial expression whic best describes your pain. The second pain intensity scale, and more commonly used, consists of rating your pain on a scale of zero to ten (0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10) where zero represents no pain and 10 is the worst imaginable pain you could ever have. Using these scales will allow your care givers to better gage not only your pain, but the amount of relief provided if a dosage of pain medication is given you. This can allow you to get quicker relief from your pain..

Back to Virtual Tour

Return to Home Page