Pain is an unpleasant physical sensation that occurs due to injury and illness. The unpleasant sensation is subjective because it depends on the intensity that a patient feels.

A nurse who is caring for a patient who is in pain should know how to access the type and intensity of pain for appropriate management of the discomfort. Pain is in two types that a nurse can distinguish according to the cause, duration, and onset.

Acute pain: The onset is slow or sudden with the intensity ranging between mid and severe. It might happen to occur after surgery, medical procedure, critical illness or trauma. The duration of acute pain is less than six months.

Chronic pain: This type of pain lasts for more than 6 months with an intensity range of mild to extremely incapacitating. Chronic pain can in some instances restrict a patient from performing daily activities and usually leads to despair.

Nursing Care Plan for Pain Management DiagnosisAs we noted, pain is highly subjective, but the description by patients about the pain they are experiencing is the best indicator. A nurse cannot prove or disprove what a patient is feeling but also cannot assume. It is also essential for a nurse to ask about the cause of pain and the period that it has been in place.

A nurse should also observe nonverbal indicators of pain such as moaning, facial grimace, crying and guarding. Nursing Care Plan for Pain Management Goals and Outcome The goals and expected the results for nursing care plan for pain management are:

  • Patient displays improved well-being such as BP, pulse, respiration, body posture or muscle tone.
  • A patient describes a satisfactory pain control at the level that is less than 3-4 on a scale of 0-10.
  • A patient uses both pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain relied strategies
  • Patient displays improvement in mood and coping with the pain.


Assessment of pain that a patient is experiencing is the first step to addressing the problem and planning strategies to manage it. A patient is the most reliable source of information regarding the ache.

Descriptive scales such as visual analogue can also enable a nurse to distinguish the degree of pain. A clearer picture about pain develops after an assessment of pain characteristics in these terms.

  • Quality for example burning, shooting and sharpness
  • Severity on a scale of 0 for no pain to 10 that indicates the most severe
  • Onset (sudden or gradual) Location regarding anatomy
  • Duration -The period of existence and whether the pain is intermittent or continuous
  • Precipitating or relieving factors

Some people deny the existence of pain, and a nurse should give attention to associated signs that might help in evaluating pain. For instance, a high heart rate, blood pressure and temperature can be present in patients with acute pain. A patient’s skin can feel cold to touch and appear pale. Some manifestations that help to indicate the presence of pain are restlessness and an inability to concentrate.


Assessment is a crucial step in the management of pain because it helps to determine the type, intensity, and effective relief. Nursing care plans for pain management should start by fast acknowledgment of pain reports. Early intervention can help to decrease the amount of analgesic necessary to treat a patient.

It is essential for a nurse to obtain a medical history to check current and past use of analgesic/narcotic to determine the appropriate method of pain relief. Patients with acute pain are likely to require nonopioid analgesic round the clock unless there is a contradiction.

Doctors are likely to prescribe the right medication, but nurses have a responsibility to ensure they adhere to medication instructions and administer the nonpharmacological pain relief methods such as music therapy, breathing, and relaxation exercises. These methods work by increasing a release by endorphins that help to boost the therapeutic effects of the pain relief medications.

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