Available methods to manage operative and post-operative pain include:
- General anesthesia
- Regional anesthesia to include epidural pain management and
- single spinal injection
- Patient controlled analgesia delivered with a PCA pump
- Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
The doctor may prescribe PCA. PCA stands for patient controlled analgesia, which is a system that is used to treat pain. The nurse will go over this information with the patient. Please feel welcome to ask questions.
How does PCA work?
The PCA system consists of two parts: a pump that is kept next to the bed and a control button at the end of a cable that is kept at the bedside. Pain medication from a bag placed in the pump is delivered through tubing into the patient’s IV. The nurse will set the pump to deliver the amount of medication the doctor has ordered.
To receive a dose of medication, the patient simply presses the control button. When he or she presses the button, the medication will be delivered into the IV. After the pump has delivered the medication, another dose will not be given for a short amount of time, even if the patient presses the button again. This gives the medication time to work and keeps the amounts of medication given within a safe limit.
What Are the Benefits of PCA?
PCA allows the patient to take the pain-relieving medication when it is needed. There is little delay in receiving the medication because the patient does not need to call the nurse. The medication works quickly and the patient will not need to receive a needle stick or "shot".
When Should a patient Use the PCA Pump?
Whenever the patient feels an uncomfortable level of pain
A few minutes before the patient starts activities that cause discomfort (such as turning, walking, or coughing and deep breathing). The medication may not make the patient pain-free, but it should allow the patient to rest and move around comfortably.
The nurse caring for the patient will check to see how the pain management is working and that the pump is being used correctly.
Is it Addictive?
No. Studies have shown that patients using PCA often use less medication during their hospital stay. Usually it will be stopped in a couple of days and oral medication started.
It is important that only the patient press the button to receive the pain-relieving medication. Family members and friends should never press the button for the patient. Doing so can cause the patient to receive too much medication which can be very harmful.