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Our clinic has started a new website with lots of information on types of pain and treatments.

Pain Management


What is patient controlled Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA)?

PCA is a technique which allows you to administer a small amount of painkiller (usually morphine) using a machine attached to your body. It may be connected to your vein or epidural or intrathecal catheter.  When you press the button on the PCA machine, a small dose of the pain killer delivered into your vein or epidural or spinal space.

This means that you are in greater control of your pain and you’re not have to wait for a nurse to help you.

The PCA will be set up in the recovery room after your operation once you are comfortable. The nurses will explain how to use your PC a machine effectively.

How do I use a PCA?

If you are experiencing pain, you should press your PCA button. You can do this every five minutes, if required. Do not wait for the pain to become unbearable before you press the button.

Once the PCA button has been pressed the machine delivers a small dose of painkiller into your spinal fluid. It takes about five minutes for the painkiller to work.

The PCA machine will then lock. This is a safety mechanism to avoid an overdose. The PCA machine logs every time the button is pressed. This information can then be used by nurses and doctors assess your pain killer needs.

If you are finding it hard do you use your PCA, please inform the nurses. Do not allow anyone else to press the PCA button. The PCA machine logs every time the button is pressed.

What are the benefits?

  • You do not have to wait for someone to give you pain killer
  • You can get pain-relief faster
  • You will need less pain killer overall
  • Fewer side effects

Side effects

  • nausea and sickness
  • itching
  • Confusion, hallucinations, drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • shallow breathing

All of these side effects can be treated so it is important that you inform one of the nurses or doctors if you experience any of these problems.

What if my pain is not controlled?

If your pain is not controlled, you must tell one of the nurses or doctors. You can be given additional pain killers, such as paracetamol and Diclofenac. Alternatively, your PCA settings can be altered to suit your need, either increasing or reducing the dose.

The nurses assess your pain. If it is moderate or severe, the nurses will give you additional painkillers or ask for assistance from the doctors.

When should I use my PCA?

You should use your PCA when you have to pain. It can be useful when you are having physiotherapy or having your dressing changed.

How long will I have the PCA for?

This will vary depending on your condition.

  • A PCA device can be used until the reduction of pain, or in case of incurable cancer, until the end of life.
  • Prior to discontinuing the PCA device, the patient will be examined by a doctor.