Establishing a thorough pain history should always be the first step in the management of wound pain. Only a full assessment of a wound pain can indicate the cause of the pain and help direct strategies for relief.
The fundamental problem faced with the assessment of wound pain is that it cannot be measured directly and objectively, but can only be described by the person who is experiencing it. In other words, and as McCaffery phrased it back in 1968, pain is ‘whatever the patient says it is, existing whenever he says it does.’ Any assessment of wound pain can therefore only be achieved by a careful and thorough questioning of the sufferer.
Key Elements of Routine Assessment of Wound Pain
- Type: The origin of the pain (nociceptive, neuropathic or mixed) should be determined from the patient’s description of the pain
- Severity: Pain severity should be assessed through the use of simple pain scales. The same pain scale should be used consistently for an individual patient
- Pain impact: The effect of the pain on the patient’s ability to sleep, work and perform normal routines should be assessed
- Acceptable pain level: The patient should describe a ‘tolerable’ level of pain to help set a target for pain management
- Factors that increase or reduce pain: Knowledge of the factors that exacerbate or relive pain are important to help determine pain origin and to develop a pain relief plan
- Relief rating: Post-analgesia pain scores should be compared with the patient-defined pain relief goal to evaluate the effectiveness of the pain management program and establish the need for modification where necessary
- Related adverse events: All adverse events experienced should be recorded and considered for a full insight into the patient’s condition
To learn more about wound pain, refer to our previous blog posts related to wound pain. Be sure to read next week’s blog post where we will be discussing the management of wound pain.
Check out this great resource for managing wound pain: The less pain academy sponsored by Molnlycke Health Care raises the awareness of wound pain by providing latest research, therapies, protocols and best practice in wound pain management.
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