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Managing Your Pain

Things you can do today for a better tomorrow.

No one plans to get injured.

When accidents happen, the injury often causes pain. Each person is an individual and experiences pain differently, finding relief from pain requires a variety of therapies. Often, the treatment includes opioid analgesics. While opioid analgesics do have an important place in medication therapy for the treatment of pain, it is important to understand their risks and the potential adverse effects on the body including:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased breathing rate
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Allergic reaction
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nausea
  • Addiction
  • Chronic constipation
  • Kidney injury
  • Slurred speech
  • Social isolation
  • Death

Optum is here to help you manage the medicine(s) you are taking for your work-related or auto injury. It is important to us that your medication therapy is safe and effective. We believe it is important for you to have an understanding of your medications and medication therapy.

Here are tips and information to help you better understand your injury and your pain medications.

Learn

The more you know about your injury the better you can manage your pain.

Manage

There are many ways you can help make sure your medicine is safe and effective.

Share

Talking about your pain will help others understand and treat your injury properly.

Live

Take an active role in managing your pain and find time to enjoy life. 

learn

The more you know about your injury and treatment, the better you can manage your pain.

Your injury

Ask your doctor questions to learn more about your injury and the best path to recovery. 

  • What parts of the body are affected?
  • Are you at risk for further damage to the affected part of the body?
  • What activities can you do and not do? And for how long?
Pill Icon

Your medicine

  • What is your medicine’s name?
  • Why you are taking it?
  • What it is supposed to do or change in your body?
  • How should it make you feel?
  • How should it not make you feel?
  • What are your options?
  • How much, how often, and for how long will you be taking your medicine?
  • How might your medicine interact with other vitamins, supplements, or medicine(s) you are taking for non-injury conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes?
  • Keep and read all the materials that come with your medicine. This will help make sure you use your medicine safely and effectively.

Your pain

Pain may be caused by an injury or a medical condition and is your body’s way of telling that something may be wrong. Pain may be categorized by:

  • How it feels and its intensity. Rate it from a 1-10.
  • How long it lasts. Is it acute or chronic?
  • How often you experience it.  Are there activities that make it better or worse?

Talk to your doctor about how your body experiences pain, so you can manage your recovery in the best way possible.

ACUTE PAIN (SHORT-TERM)

  • Begins suddenly or at the time of injury
  • May last for seconds, hours, weeks or a few months
  • Rarely last longer than three months
  • May be a warning of disease or continued threat of bodily harm
  • Usually stops when the cause of the pain has been treated or has healed
  • May be caused by things, including:
    • Surgery
    • Broken Bones
    • Dental Work
    • Burns or cuts

CHRONIC PAIN (LONG-TERM)

  • May last for months or years
  • May be related to an ongoing medical condition or an injury involving the nerves
  • May continue even after the cause of the pain has been treated, healed or removed
  • Common chronic pain includes:
    • Headaches
    • Low-back pain
    • Joint pain
    • Nerve pain

Manage

There are many ways you can help make sure your medicine is safe and effective.

Do not share your medication

The medicine and the directions for use, as prescribed by your doctor, are unique to you, your injury and your pain. While helpful for you, it may not be helpful or safe for a friend or relative. 

Pill Bottle

Take your medicine as prescribed

Medicine works best when taken in the right amount, at the times and how (with food, etc.) your doctor prescribed them. Skipping doses or taking more than prescribed may be an unhealthy, unsafe pattern to develop and may slow your recovery and lead to negative side effects..

Track your progress

Record your daily medicines and the details of how you feel. Track your daily activities, including foods eaten, the amount of water consumed, medications are taken, and the amount of exercise

Important

Store your medicine(s) in a secure and safe place, away from children and pets.

Describe your pain with your doctor and other providers

Pain can be hard to describe and difficult for doctors to understand because it is different for everyone. Here are a several tips to help you talk to your doctor about your pain.

  • Rate your pain on a scale of zero (no pain) to 10 (the worst pain you can imagine).
  • Use descriptive words like: burning, stabbing, tingling
  • Address your concerns about pain.
  • Keep a pain diary to track:
    • If your pain is worse at a certain time of day
    • What activities cause you pain.
    • Your pain scores
    • Home treatments and over-the counter medications that have worked for you.
    • Your progress and improvements

The Pain Scale

The Pain Scale
Woman talking with her doctor

Share

You are surrounded by people who want you to get well. Talking about your pain will help others understand and treat your injury properly.

Man talking with his doctor

Talk with your doctor

Your doctor is an advocate on your recovery journey.

  • Keep your doctor informed of all the medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter pain relievers, vitamins, herbal or nutritional supplements.
  • Ask if there are activity restrictions while taking your medicine, such as not driving or staying out of the sun. Restrictions exist to keep you safe.
  • Let your doctor know what causes pain and what relieves your pain.
  • Discuss the possible risks, benefits, and side effects of your medication therapy so you know what to expect.
    • How will it make me feel?
    • Can it be addictive?
    • What happens when I stop taking it?
  • Review the risks of using opioid analgesics in your treatment and discuss your concerns and options.
  • Talk about your medication concerns

Talk with your pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in medication therapy.

  • Know what to do if your medicine causes a reaction you do not anticipate.
  • Ask if there are any restrictions while using the medicine, such as avoiding alcohol or the use of machinery; If the restrictions cause concern, are their alternative medicine(s)?
  • Share concerns about how the medicine might interact with vitamins, supplements, or other medicines you are taking that do not relate to your injury.
  • Understanding addictive issues and concerns.
  • Symptoms of dependence can begin in just a few days when starting on certain medicines.
  • Check on the side effects and symptoms of your medicines and know the signs of dependence.

Talk with your family and friends 

Explain your current limitations and how they can help.

  • Tell them about your prescribed medications and treatment plan
  • Review the potential medication side effects(s) and what they might need to watch for  
  • Keep in touch, being happy can help the healing process.

live

It’s important to take an active role in managing your pain, while following your doctor’s orders.

Eat healthy

A healthy diet provides your body with the nutrition needed to heal an injury. The right portions of nutrient-rich, low-sodium foods, can also help maintain a healthy weight, which is sometimes a factor when an injury is sustained. Ask your doctor if there are foods to avoid and if there are foods that can help in recovery.

Man and son eating a healthy meal together

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated flushes your system and helps you avoid constipation. Staying hydrated also helps keep your muscles and joints strong, prevents headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness, and pain. 

NOTE: If you have a heart condition or other underlying medical condition, talk with your doctor before changing your diet or fluid consumption.

Keep active

Inactivity due to injury may lead to other injuries or make your current injury worse. Low-impact exercises help maintain muscle strength and foster recovery. Work with your doctor to create an activity plan that is right for you.

  • Exercising in water helps decrease stress on the body
  • Yoga improves balance and flexibility
  • Meditation and relaxation techniques help to reduce pain
  • Walking can improve your mood and help you sleep better
  • Stretching helps rebuild muscle strength and may be ordered by your doctor

Get a good nights sleep

A good night of sleep is important to health and healing. A lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, irritability, depression and fatigue, all of which may intensify your feeling of pain. Because the side effects of some medicines cause sleeplessness, you may consider the following:

  • Avoid napping during the day
  • Limit or avoid caffeine such as tea, coffee, soda or energy drinks after lunch
  • Before bed, try to:
    • Avoid or limit how much alcohol you drink, if allowed by your doctor
    • Avoid any exercise that is instructed by your doctor or healthcare provider
    • Avoid watching TV and being on your computer or phone
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, as you are falling asleep
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day
Man exercising with dumbbell

Adopt a positive outlook

Maintaining a positive outlook helps manage, and even decrease, your pain.

  • Focus on things that make you happy.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy, with the people you enjoy