In some cases, you will need medicine to help your pain. You and your doctors and nurses will decide which medications are right for you.
Studies have shown that it is easier to control pain before it occurs or when it is at a low level. That’s why you should let your caregivers know and when you have pain as early as possible.
Mild Pain Relievers
Acetaminophen: (e.g., Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and Motrin), and ketoralac (e.g., Toradol) are some commonly used mild pain relief medications. Some of these medications will reduce swelling and irritation, but can also relieve pain.
Moderate to Severe Pain Relievers
Morphine, meperidine (e.g., Demerol) and hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) are commonly used pain medications. They may be taken by mouth, in the muscle (IM as a "shot"), in the vein (using Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) and as intermittent injections by a nurse), or through a small tube in your back (epidural catheter).
“PCA” means that you, as a patient, control when you get pain medicine. A small pump connected to your IV line will give pain medicine. Epidural analgesia is a method of pain relief in which a local anesthetic, an opioid, or a combination of both is given by a small pump through a small tube. The tube is inserted into your back near your spine by an anesthesiologist.
Do not be afraid of becoming addicted to pain medication. Studies have shown that when used for pain control, the risk is extremely low. This is true even for long-term use of opiates.
Complementary Pain Treatments
In addition to medicine, there are many complementary methods that can be used to reduce pain. These methods can be effective for mild to moderate pain and to boost the pain-relief effects of the medicine. You may need the help of health professionals to learn to do these for yourself. Friends and family members can help you with some of them. You may also choose a modality (acupuncture, hypnosis, or physical therapy, for example) that requires you to work with a licensed professional in that particular specialty.
Tension makes all pain worse. By using techniques that relax muscles and calm tension, a person can lessen pain, and gain more control over it.
Relaxation techniques include: