Reducing Your Pain Medicine After You Leave the Hospital
Acute pain is pain related to surgery or an illness that goes away after a few days or weeks. The
amount of pain medicine used to treat acute pain in the hospital will be reduced over a couple
days to weeks after you leave and then, will be stopped.
If you have chronic pain
Many people who have chronic pain tell us that after they have been ill or had surgery their
chronic pain feels worse for a short time. You may be given extra pain medicine to treat your
acute pain in addition to medicine used to treat your chronic pain. After you leave, it is crucial to
understand how and when to use all your prescribed pain medicine. Make sure you know how to
use pain medicine for acute and chronic pain and the difference between the two. It is also vital
to know who should be contacted and when with questions about your acute or chronic pain.
You may have different clinics managing your acute pain and your chronic pain.
It is important that you take an active role in making a plan to control your pain and to follow it.
Be sure to talk to your doctors and nurses about the things listed below.
1. Ask the doctor or nurse what to expect after you leave.
How long will the pain from your injury, illness or treatment be expected to last?
What are the options for your type of pain after you leave?
2. Discuss your pain control options with your doctors and nurses.
Talk with your nurses and doctors about pain control methods that have worked well or
not so well for you before and during your hospital stay.
Talk with your nurses and doctors about any concerns or fears you may have about pain
Ask about side effects that may occur with pain treatment and how to handle them.
Talk with your doctors and nurses about the medicines you take for other health problems
because mixing some drugs with some pain medicines can cause problems.
3. Work with you doctor and nurses to make a pain control plan.
Your pain management plan may include a list of medicines and other non-drug
treatments you can use to manage your pain. Be sure the plan makes sense to you. You
must be able to both understand and follow it.
There is no one best plan that works for all people. Your input into the plan is crucial if it
is going to work.
Ask about what is a realistic pain control goal (such as reducing your pain enough to
sleep and be active).
You may or may not need prescription and/or over-the-counter pain medicine. It is
important that you know the different kinds of pain medicine and how to use them safely
for your type of pain.
Know when and who to contact for questions. Unexpected changes in pain can be a sign
of a problem. If the site of your pain or what it feels like changes or if you have new or
uncontrolled side effects from your pain medicine, you should let someone know. Don't
worry about being a bother. The nurse and doctor want and need to know about it.
It is important to understand which doctor or clinic to contact for follow-up care or
questions after you leave. For some this will be a clinic doctor or nurse from the hospital,
for others it will be their regular primary care doctor’s office. Whenever possible, only
one doctor should be prescribing your pain medicines.
Who to contact for questions about your prescription pain medicine:_______________________
Date Medicine Dose Frequency or Times
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©11/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6923