Pain is now the fifth vital sign. When you are in the hospital, pain is supposed to be regularly checked and if the pain is at an unacceptable level, treatment needs to be given and then the results from that treatment rechecked. Despite this basic right to pain control, many doctors, nurses and pharmacists have experienced an incredible number of patients who under-report their pain. Why does this happen? There are many reasons, some as complex as people can be. Other reasons can be fear of addiction, not wanting to be weak, not wanting to bother people, trying to be a "good patient", and not being able to afford medicines.
Being honest about the level of pain that you feel, when you feel it, how you feel it, telling your doctor if it travels from one place to another, how severe it is compared to other pain you've had, if it is worse at certain times of the day and what your true goals are for the pain helps the person tryng to ease your pain incredibly. Pain can also be the way that your body tells you that you are getting better. For example, after surgery, and as recovery continues, pain tends to decrease.
While it is a tough situation, increasing or different pain, such as in a cancer patient may be a signal that the cancer is spreading and time may be growing short. Regardless, pain control is something that helps the people caring for you give better care and reporting it to your nurse, pharmacist or doctor is one of the most important things you can do. In future editions of the Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, pain medicines and for severe pain, strategies for combining extended release forms with immediate release (rescue) forms of medicine will be discussed.