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Acute Pain Nursing Diagnosis

Acute Pain

Acute pain: The defining characteristics of acute pain are slow, severe, and short term. Unlike chronic pain, it lasts from couple of seconds to six months. Unpleasant feeling, physical discomfort, emotional discomforts are key symptoms of acute pain. The pain can start after a surgery, after a trauma, illness or injury. Acute pain plays a part in letting the patient be conscious about their injury or illness. The origin of acute pain arises from potential tissue damage or internal injury. The unpleasant feelings vary from patient to patient.

Acute pain can arise due to many reasons; some reasons include musculoskeletal disorders such as fractures or arthritis to treatment related issues such as burns or accidents. Apart from the physical illness and injuries there are some other factors which might enhance the discomfort of acute pain, such as patient’s psychology, emotions, cultural background, spiritual state etc.

Nursing diagnosis

Acute Pain

Pain Assessment

The most crucial part of the whole diagnosis process is the assessment of the degree of pain. If a nurse cannot figure out the level of pain the patient is suffering from, the outcome could be negative. Pain is subjective, a systematic process of assessment and measurement can make it more reliable to obtain information and improve the function of the nursing diagnosis, besides proper nursing assessment is vital for the making of a proper care plan. Visual scanners and monitors can be used to distinguish the degree of pain.

As said above, apart from physical symptoms, there are other factors which are also very crucial in the process of pain diagnosis. Factors such as culture, environment, patient psychology, background, intrapsychic are very important in the assessment of pain. There are cultures which are very conservative, some women from those culture feel hesitant to share their problem, then there are people from such culture who little to no idea about how to express their problem or feelings. In such cases, the nurses and the healthcare officials needs to not show prejudice but instead proceed on the basis of each individual and not just as whole group of patients.

Nurses must be persuasive enough to get information from the patients, some patients deny the existence or the level of pain they are in, this could work crucial in the outcome. Signs and symptoms should be observed; increase in blood pressure, sudden change of body temperature, increase in heart rate, unusual pulse rate etc. are the probable symptoms of acute pain. Other signs such as pale skin, cold body, restlessness, and skin irritation are noticeable symptoms.


Assessing the patent’s anticipation for pain is a part of a nursing intervention. There are patients who are satisfied only with minimizing the pain while there are patients who want it completely gone; understanding the perception of patients makes it easier for further treatments. Interventions can be difficult or easy depending on the type of patients they are dealing with.

Not all patients are comfortable with the same procedures or methods, there will always be some patients who are not satisfied or comfortable with the usual method, they will try to persuade the nurses or the healthcare officials to try an alternative method, regardless of whatever methods they proceed on with, patient’s needs to be known about their options and every possible approaches to manage or relive pain. Timely intervention is key to effective pain management so therefore it must be done with logical thinking and suitable timing.

There are non-pharmacological methods to relive pain as well, for example relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, music therapy, counseling etc. The environment the patients are put in is also another factor to stress relief. If the patients are provided with quiet and peaceful environment, the tolerance level for the pain intensifies; means less the stressor, more the tolerance level. By picking the option of non-pharmacological methods, they are allowing the patients to choose their own ways to calm themselves. Some prefer breathing exercises while some prefer yoga. These non-pharmacological methods help to increase the release of endorphins, allowing the patients to sooth themselves.

Acute Pain

Choosing the right type of medication is extremely vital, as varies of types of pain requires varies types of medication, choosing the optimal medication for pain relief can determine a positive outcome. Some requires non-opioid pain relievers while others require a combination of non-opioid and low dose opioid. During medication, it is important for the nurse to continuously monitor the patient’s health, medication records and flow charts. Assessment of Potential epidural analgesia complications such as extreme sedation, respiratory distress, urinary retention, or catheter migration. Respiratory depression and intravascular infusion of anesthesia can be potentially life threatening.

At last, review the whole process again and evaluate the patient and its behavior and health. Reviewing the whole process will determine any fault or any abnormal pattern in any methods. Evaluating the patient will show the effectiveness of the whole diagnosis procedure. After the evaluation is done record and document the whole process of the diagnosis. By documenting, it will help the entire healthcare team evaluate their pain management strategy and their care plan.

Desired outcome

These are basically the goals and positive outcome after any nursing diagnosis of acute pain.

  • Patient must evaluate the level of pain they are in, if it’s fewer than 4 in a scale of 10, the result is positive.
  • Overall health condition of the patient should be neutral or normal, blood pressure, heart rate, pulse, all should be functioning normally. 
  • Patient is aware of the methods of medication and diagnosis they went through and should recommend to other potential patients.
  • Emotional state of the patient should be positive, no abnormal behavior or dysfunction.
  • Patient is coping up with the change and health is improving.
  • Patient reports ability to get enough sleep and rest.
  • Shows improved vital signs.
  • Shows improved muscle tone.
  • Aware of the pain relief methods.
  • Recovers concentration and focus.
  • Overall the patient reports to be satisfied.

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