The acute pain team provides advice and treatment to inpatients at Northern Devon District Hospital including Paediatrics and Maternity. Acute pain is defined as pain after surgery or pain lasting less than 3-6 months relating to trauma or disease. For people suffering from more chronic forms of pain, advice can be obtained from the Persistent Pain Team.
The team is made up of Amanda Barker (Acting Clinical Nurse Specialist), Geoff Russell (Acute Pain Management Nurse), Gillian Bryan (Acute Pain Management Nurse) and Dr Andrew Walder Consultant Anaesthetist who have a special interest in acute pain management. The team also works closely with their colleagues in the Trust pharmacy department. The Acute Pain Team works directly with medical and nursing colleagues at the bedside, to ensure that the techniques employed to manage acute pain are effective and appropriate for the individual patient. In addition the team works hard to ensure that practices that are based on good evidence are incorporated into the Trust guidelines and procedures.
What pain relief is available?
Controlling pain is very important. Research suggests that you will experience fewer problems after an operation, if your pain is well controlled. Allowing you to recover quicker and go home sooner. If your pain is not controlled you may find day to day activities difficult and experience complications such as chest infections, clots in the legs or bed sores.
During your stay if you experience any pain it is important that you let the team caring for you know so that they can arrange pain relief. Some of the types of pain relief you may be offered are:
Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
PCA is a technique which allows you to administer a small amount of painkiller (usually morphine) using a machine attached to your arm; it is connected to your drip. When you press the button on the PCA machine, a small dose of the painkiller is delivered into your vein. The benefit of this treatment is that you are in greater control of your pain, and will not have to wait for a nurse to help you.
The nerves from your spine to your lower body pass through an area in you back called the “epidural space”. An epidural involves inserting a small catheter into the “epidural space” and injecting local anaesthetic. The local anaesthetic blocks nerve messages and the lower part of your body becomes numb. The amount of numbness can be varied depending on the amount of local anaesthetic used. Continuous pain relief is provided by an epidural pump which continuously supplies anaesthetic via the catheter.
A nerve block is an injection of local anaesthetic near a nerve or group of nerves for temporary pain control. The local anaesthetic blocks pain messages to that specific nerve and reduced pain sensation and can cause numbness until the local anaesthetic wears off. Nerve blocks can be performed as single shots, continuous infusions or frequent boluses to help control pain following surgery.
Advice on pain management
There are a number of patient information leaflets available which describe the different pain relief methods that can be used and advice on how to manage pain. These are available here.