Are PAIN AND DISCOMFORT THE SAME?

  1. 0 Are pain and discomfort the same? I am interested to see wht you guys think, I can't find any real definition for discomfort as it pertains to nursing. I know pain is what our sensory neurons tell out brain. Whats the difference? Or is there a difference?
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  3. Visit  lovinme1022} profile page

    About lovinme1022

    Joined Nov '13; Posts: 69; Likes: 98.

    16 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  loriangel14} profile page
    3
    What I find is that patients that are reluctant to say they have pain will say they have discomfort. I think it's just a difference of perception or choice of expressing how they feel. I usually medicate for pain if they express discomfort.Although discomfort can just mean they need to be repositioned. I usually ask some clarifying questions to identify what they mean by discomfort.
    poppycat, lovinme1022, and Fiona59 like this.
  5. Visit  amoLucia} profile page
    0
    I think maybe discomfort is probably pain1/10. After all has anyone ever really heard someone describe their pain as a #1? If you sit in a chair in one position too long and get pins & needles, it's uncomfortable and mildly painful. Like a #1.

    To me, it's the same on a lesser degree. So yes, I will give tylenot 2 tabs for general discomfort. Just my $0.03.
  6. Visit  amoLucia} profile page
    1
    I think maybe discomfort is probably pain1/10. After all has anyone ever really heard someone describe their pain as a #1? If you sit in a chair in one position too long and get pins & needles, it's uncomfortable and mildly painful. Like a #1.

    To me, it's the same on a lesser degree. So yes, I will give tylenot 2 tabs for general discomfort.

    Just my $0.03.
    Last edit by amoLucia on Jan 16, '14 : Reason: oops
    lovinme1022 likes this.
  7. Visit  Clovery} profile page
    5
    I always assumed discomfort included pain but also uncomfortable conditions like itching, heartburn, positioning issues, etc. A patient may simply respond "no" when asked about pain, but may report other symptoms when asked about comfort.
    poppycat, Cobweb, amoLucia, and 2 others like this.
  8. Visit  lovinme1022} profile page
    0
    Do you guys think people use them interchangeably or are they 2 different things? It seems like from what everyone is posting that they are treated pretty much the same. If a patient said I am having some discomfort would you be as aggressive treating it, or if they said I am having pain which one would you treat more aggressively. An assessment would clear it up but I am curious to hear you guys opinion. I wonder why there is no definite definition for discomfort, you can find a ton about pain and it's types.
  9. Visit  RNperdiem} profile page
    1
    Some people do use them interchangeably, but I think they are separate things.
    My prenatal class instructor told us that labor involves some "discomfort" and that there would be a lot of "pressure". I don't think the word "pain" was ever used, now that I think about it.
    lovinme1022 likes this.
  10. Visit  krisiepoo} profile page
    4
    Funny you should ask this. I just had a minor procedure done to remove a very large cyst and they kept asking me if it was *painful*. I wasn't IN PAIN, but I was UNCOMFORTABLE. It was important for me to distinguish between the two and I can't even tell you why it was.

    I think a lot of it is I see so many people who claim severe pain and want pain meds. I wasn't looking for (or even needing) pain meds, but I wanted to let them know that I wasn't comfortable.

    That might not answer your question, but I personally felt like there was a difference
    poppycat, amoLucia, lovinme1022, and 1 other like this.
  11. Visit  canoehead} profile page
    0
    It seems to be a local thing here. Any pain under 5/10 is "just uncomfortable" for our elderly locals.
  12. Visit  lovinme1022} profile page
    1
    When you first start with labor it is discomfort as labor progresses there is definitely pain, hence the epidural.
    RNperdiem likes this.
  13. Visit  GrnTea} profile page
    3
    For years before he died my dad had awful osteoporosis and collapsed vertebrae, went from 6'2" to about 5'6", plus all the pain that comes with the changes in spine architecture-- nerve impingement, disk ruptures, sacroiliac dysfunction, hip pain ... you bet he had pain. But if you ever asked him, he would look at you and say, "It's just ... discomfort." It was his way of communicating that he wasn't willing to admit to having pain because that would indicate weakness. But he had awful pain, and took a lot of meds for it, and without them he would be completely immobilized and nonverbal (so he wouldn't cry out). And even then he would refuse to characterize his pain on a 1-10 scale, because that, too, would be to admit defeat.

    There is no scale of "1-5/10 isn't really pain, it's discomfort." There is no "If the patient says it's discomfort, you don't have to do much about it." I know for a new nurse or a younger person it's hard to grasp the spectrum of human response to pain, but keep trying. And never accept "discomfort" when your patient can barely move or you know he has a condition that's painful, like bone mets or other orthopedic injury, peripheral neuropathy, other neurogenic pain, or ... whatever he says it is.
    poppycat, sharpeimom, and Here.I.Stand like this.
  14. Visit  Here.I.Stand} profile page
    1
    Always clarify what the pt means. I personally would just describe how I'm feeling--pain, itching, nausea, other feeling that is not comfortable but not painful either. But I am not every pt. Every pt will not use words as *I* understand them through *my* personal experiences, nor will every pt use every word in the sense of Webster's definitions. One might mean mild pain, another might be in a lot of pain but too stoic to say it.
    mind_body_soul RN likes this.
  15. Visit  Cobweb} profile page
    0
    Pain and discomfort are not always meaningful words, in the nursing sense. You need to get pretty specific in order to treat your patient properly, if it is possible. (Sometimes your CNA will come and say, "Ms. Smith seems uncomfortable," but since Ms. Smith is non-verbal, you have to take your best guess.) I had a patient who had a mass in his abdomen that depressed his respiratory status, and it made him extremely uncomfortable, but it didn't cause any pain.
    Last edit by Cobweb on Jan 17, '14


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