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Pain: Comfort measures

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Pain is a common complaint found in the hospital, and pain is a subjective experience that may differ from client to client. This means that everyone’s pain is not the same. There are different comfort measures available to assist clients with their individual pain needs.

These include non-prescription or over the counter pain-relieving medications, such as ibuprofen, which is usually used for mild or moderate pain, or prescription medications, such as narcotics usually used for severe pain, which are prescribed by the healthcare team.

You can also use heat and cold applications as well as physical therapy treatments like massage, movement therapy, and exercise.

As a nursing assistant, there are several comfort measures you can use to help alleviate your client’s pain. While doing this, make sure you are as gentle as possible in providing comfort measures as even minor movements can cause extreme pain.

It is also important to remember that before any comfort measures are performed, you need to carry out proper hand hygiene.

One easy measure is client positioning, which can be used to make sure the client is in a comfortable position and aligned properly, relieving strain on muscles and joints.

A back massage is also an effective measure to help relieve discomfort as it can be used to comfort and relax clients with the added benefit of stimulating circulation and preventing skin breakdown.

A good time to give a back massage is after repositioning or after a bath. Always check with a nurse before performing a back massage to make sure it’s appropriate and safe for the client. You can also take the opportunity to check the skin for redness, bruises, and injuries.

Next, helping the client relax can reduce anxiety, which can cause the body to be tense and increase pain. Adjust the room temperature and lighting to create a relaxing environment while also limiting noise in the room.

Bring extra warm blankets for the client if necessary. Some clients will also benefit from taking deep, slow, and regular breaths to help them relax.

Guided imagery can also relax the client. Have them close their eyes, create a pleasant scene, focus on that image, and describe it aloud. Remember to be gentle with your clients and speak in a calm and soothing voice.

Distraction is another good method to ‘distract’ the client from their pain. Get them to listen to some music, watch TV, play games, have them do an activity like a crossword puzzle, or simply have a conversation with the client to give them something else to focus on.

Okay, now when assisting a client with comfort measures, there are a few things you should report to the nurse. Let the nurse know the characteristics of the client's pain and discomfort before the intervention.

Also report which method you used and if the intervention provided comfort and relief of pain. Document the date and time, comfort measure used, and any observations regarding the client's response.

All right, as a quick recap… The healthcare team can treat pain using several methods including medication; physical therapy; heat and cold applications; and other comfort measures, which will vary depending on the client.

As a nursing assistant, you have a variety of methods within your authorized duties to help alleviate your client’s pain. This includes positioning, back massage, relaxation, guided imagery, and distraction.

Remember to report and document the information about the pain before and after the intervention and which method was used to alleviate the client’s pain.