Acute Pain Nursing Diagnosis

Acute Pain Nursing Diagnosis

Acute Pain Nursing Diagnosis Definition

Pain presents differently among patients suffering from a myriad of diseases and conditions. One can feel the level of pain or intensity depending on the situation which can be classified as mild or severe. Acute pain according to physicians occurs for a shorter period that can be less than six months while chronic pain lasts for more than six months.

Young people experience pain as a result of emotions, culture and illness while old-aged persons suffer from pain due to emotional deficiencies and cognitive impairment. NANDA defines acute pain as an emotional experience combined with an unpleasant sensory feeling that can occur from actual tissue damage on the body (Kurucová, 2018). The experience moves from a slow onset to a mild intensity and finally a severe intensity.

Acute pain is always predictable to end faster compared to chronic pain. The duration of acute pain is always six months from the onset of the pain. Moreover, pain takes a subjective state to give the patient a range of unpleasant sensations that are caused by a lot of distressing factors. Pain is an indicator of a progressive illness or a sign of an injury. 

Psychological, emotional and cultural distresses are the main causes of pain in the current society (Rinenggantyas, 2020). Every individual experiences pain differently and thus should be accepted as described by the person experiencing the pain. The assessment of pain among individuals can be challenging particularly in old aged patients who are associated with sensory perceptual and cognitive impairment.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Pain

  • Patients experiencing acute pain tend to have a guarding behaviour or protect a specific part of their bodies where they feel pain.
  • Patients are self–focused and have pain-related complaints.
  • One tends to have withdrawal from physical and social contact and altered time perception.
  • The patient appears to be distracted and tends to moan, cry, pace and restlessness.
  • The patient appears to have a facial indication of pain.
  • Patients can be characterized by muscle alteration detonated by rigidity, flaccidness and tension.
  • One experiences change in blood pressure, pupillary dilation, respiratory changes, pallor, diaphoresis and nausea.
  • One can change his or her diet plan as a result of pain.
  • The patient can present extreme behaviours such as yelling and crying.
  • The behavioral changes reported by the family
  • Patients can describe the pain as aching, burning and shooting from a given area or the whole body.
  • Sleeplessness
  • Pain can be associated with cardiovascular pain, musculoskeletal pain and postoperative pain.
  • Medical problems can result in pain.
  • Pain can occur as a result of medical treatments and diagnostic measures.
  • Trauma can cause pain.
  • Psychological, cultural and emotional can result in pain.

Desired Outcomes/goals of acute pain in nursing care plan

  • Patients must express their physical ability in the expected conditions
  • One must be able to retain or maintain all psychological standards such as heartbeat, respiration, muscle relaxation and body temperature.
  • Patients must be able to deal with anxiety and stress in a healthy way.
  • The patient must describe the level of pain or intensity on a scale of 0-10 and must be less than three or four.
  • One must be able to use techniques associated with pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical procedures.

Nursing care plan for acute pain (Assessment)

  • One should examine every sign and symptom that is linked to the pain. Nurses must be aware of the patient refusing to admit to pain. Patients may be experiencing respiratory issues, high blood pressure and restlessness . Nurses must observe and examine all circumstances related to the pain.
  • Nurses must examine the patient attributes related to the pain in terms of severity, quality, place and duration. One must determine whether the pain is shooting, burning or sharp. Assessing the relief factor during the sensation of the pain.
  • Nurses should examine the pain and link it to personal relations, and environmental and cultural factors that may have triggered the pain. The patient’s pain can occur as a result of stressors from families, friends or any other relations that may have caused the illness.
  • Nurses should be able to examine the relief of the pain depending on how the patient feels pain or the level of pain. Instant relief in some patients may be necessary during diagnosis.
  • Nurses must access whether the patient may be comfortable with a given treatment or technique used to deal with acute pain. It is a critical point for any nursing diagnosis because patients may have indulged in looking at pharmaceutical treatments. Some may prefer to use non-medical treatment thus one must determine the patient’s readiness to use the treatment(Watanabe, 2017).
  • The use of patient–controlled analgesia in which a patient can control the relief of the pain using an infusion pump. Use of the patient-controlled analgesia must be well described to the patient before use . One must analyze if the patient is allergic or anti-allergic to the opioid treatments. Patients must not have a history of psychiatric treatment, respiratory disease and abuse of the drug. Nurses should further determine if a patient has been under PCA medication and determine the level of pain at that given time. If one is experiencing extreme pain one can increase the dosage to induce a relief of the pain. Patients experiencing low levels of pain must be guided appropriately in the use of patient-controlled analgesia

Nursing interventions for acute pain

  • Conscious sedation
  • Analgesic administration
  • Pain management
  • Patient-controlled analgesia


Kurucová, R. Ž. (2018). CLINICAL VALIDATION OF NURSING DIAGNOSIS OF ACUTE PAIN. Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, 9(1), 781-790.

Rinenggantyas, N. M. (2020). Application of NANDA, NIC, NOC Diagnosis: Acute Pain In Improving Quality of Nursing Documentation. Journal Of Nursing Practice, 3(2), 204-209.

Watanabe, T. O. (2017). Evaluation of the diagnostic accuracy of nonverbal signs used by medical staff to assess postoperative pain: A prospective study. European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA), 34(5), 318-320.