Nursing Care Plan (NCP) for Acute Pain

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Acute pain is a sudden type of pain that typically lasts less than 3-6 months. It serves as a warning of a disease or threat to the body. It disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed.


Acute pain is an inadequate nutrient supply to the tissues. Surgical pain, traumatic pain (broken bone, burn, cut), and muscle strain are a few examples.

Desired Outcome

Patient reports a satisfactory pain level using the numeric pain scale, maintains baseline vitals, uses non pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical pain relief strategies effectively.

Subjective Data

  • Sharp pain
  • Throbbing 
  • Burning
  • Stabbing pain
  • Weakness
  • Tingling

Objective Data

  • Guarding a body part 
  • Facial expression (crying, moaning,)
  • Profuse sweating 
  • Alteration in BP, HR, RR

Nursing Interventions

Nursing Intervention (ADPIE) Rationale
Subjective pain assessment -asking where it hurts, how long, what makes it better? Or worse? What have they tried to relieve pain?” Use pain scale to assess pain level better understanding their pain will better help you in where you should begin in treating their level of pain
Assess VS elevated BP, HR, and RR if patient having a lot of pain.
Diagnostics/Physical Assessment  CT scan- broken bones/internal bleeding 

Physical assessment-head to toe to indicate a cause for the acute pain 

Pharmacological Methods  OTC medications (NSAIDS/Tylenol)

Narcotics- patient may need something much stronger to control their pain 

Non-pharmacological Methods  heat/ice, massage, relaxation techniques, distraction

Writing a Nursing Care Plan (NCP) for Acute Pain

A Nursing Care Plan (NCP) for Acute Pain starts when at patient admission and documents all activities and changes in the patient’s condition. The goal of an NCP is to create a treatment plan that is specific to the patient. They should be anchored in evidence-based practices and accurately record existing data and identify potential needs or risks.


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Hey everyone. Today, we are going to be putting together a nursing care plan for acute pain. So let’s get started. First, we’re going to go over the pathophysiology. So acute pain is a sudden type of pain that typically lasts less than three to six months. It serves as a warning sign of a disease or a threat to the body. It disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has been healed. Some nursing considerations. You want to make sure you’re doing a full head to toe assessment, doing some subjective pain assessments, some vital signs, diagnostic testing, and some pharmacological or non-pharmacological pain methods. Desired outcome: patient reports a satisfactory pain level using the numeric pain scale, maintains baseline vitals, and uses non-pharmacological or pharmaceutical pain relief strategies effectively. 

So we’re going to go ahead and go through with our care plan. We’re going to go over some subjective data and we’re going to go through some objective data. So what are we going to see? Or what is the patient going to tell us? So some subjective data is going to be some sharp pain. They may describe it as being a throbbing pain or a stabbing pain. What we can see, they might be guarding the area that’s in pain. So you’ll see them guarding an area, maybe some facial expressions. So some grimacing or crying. It could also be described as burning or having weakness or some tingling. There could be some profuse sweating, some alteration in the blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate – can see all of these with some pain with these patients. 

So interventions: you want to get a subjective pain assessment. So with the subjective pain assessment, you are going to see for how long they’ve had this pain and where the pain hurts? Have they tried anything that’s worked or what makes it worse? Have they tried anything at home that has worked? So you want to use a pain scale as well to just assess where they are with their pain. So we, we have a better understanding of their pain. We’ll be able to better help them and know kind of where we want to start in the treatment plan. Another invention we want to do. We want to make sure we’re monitoring their vital signs; they can have an elevated blood pressure, an elevated heart rate, and elevated respiratory status when they’re having pain. All of these can be elevated. So we want to monitor all of that. 

Another intervention we want to do, we can do some diagnostic testing, physical assessment, and a CT scan. So maybe they felt like they might have broken something. So maybe we’re looking for some broken bones or some internal bleeding. When we’re doing our head and toe assessment, we want to make sure that we’re indicating any sort of cause for the acute pain. Another invention we’re going to be doing is possible pharmacological methods for pain. So we’re going to give medications; we can use OTC meds. So this could be like your NSAIDs or Tylenol for the pain. But with acute pain, sometimes OTC medications don’t always work for the patient. Maybe they need some narcotics, some stronger pain medication for that pain, right? 

And sometimes we try to use some non-pharmacological methods; this can be just some heat or ice applied to a certain area, maybe massaging the area. Maybe it’s some relaxation techniques or distraction. Most of the time, you’re going to find that with patients that have acute pain, these non-pharmacological methods don’t work and you end up having to use these pharmacological methods. But for some patients, they like to try more of the non-pharmacological first and then move on to giving actual medications. 

Alright, we’re going to move on to some of the key points. So pathophysiology and etiology: acute pain is a sudden type of pain that typically lasts less than three to six months and serves as a warning sign of a disease or some sort of threat to the body system. Some call can be surgical pain, some traumatic pain, like a broken bone and some muscle strain. 

Some subjective or objective data. The patient can complain of sharp pain. Maybe it’s throbbing, burning, or stabbing. They’re having some weakness, tenderness. You might see them guard the body part that hurts. Maybe some profuse sweating, and some alteration in their blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate – they’re all going to be elevated. We’re going to do a thorough assessment, maybe do some diagnostic testing. So you’re going to make sure you’re doing a full head to toe assessment. You’re looking for any sort of injury. Some subjective pain assessment. So you’re going to be asking them when the pain started and if they’ve tried any sort of pain relief methods at home; trying to figure out where the pain might be. Some vital signs, a CT scan, if needed, and some pain relief. So some pharmacological methods of pain relief, such as NSAIDs and narcotics or some non-pharmacological methods. So heat, heat, ice packs, massage, and distraction techniques can help. Alright, there you go. There’s that care plan for you. 

You guys did awesome. We love you guys. Go out, be your best self today and as always happy nursing.


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