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Acta Vulnologica 2013 June;11(2):67-76


language: English, Italian

Pain and skin ulcers: analysis from patients’ point of view through a focused interview

Scapicchio C. 1, Catenacci P. 2, Lupi S. 1

1 Unit of General Medicine, Department of Internal Specialistic Medicine, San Raffaele Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Hospital, Milan, Italy; 2 Unit of Specialistic Rehabilitation Cardiothoracovascular Department, San Raffaele Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Hospital, Milan, Italy


Aim: Skin ulcers pose formidable challenges for clinical care, are often debilitating for the patient and frustrating for the health team. The pathophysiological components of pain in skin ulcers constitute a pain syndrome that can evolve into psychophysical distress. This study investigated whether patients with skin ulcers experience pain and how they describe it.
Methods: A structured interview (14 multiple choice items) was conducted with 24 inpatients during their stay in 6 different units of the San Raffaele Hospital, Milan.
Results: As measured on a numeric rating scale ([NRS] 0 denotes no pain and 10 worst possible pain), pain intensity was rated >4 by 92% of the interviewees; 59% described it as chronic and 45% as persistent. All patients reported their experiencing pain to the nurses but 58% obtained partial or no benefit from the pain therapy they received.
Conclusion: Although pain is a common problem, it is not managed adequately. Physicians, and nurses in particular, need to be made aware of pain in skin ulcers. Suboptimal pain management results from deficiencies in training nurses specifically for skin ulcer treatment. A wound care nurse could help to improve care and satisfaction with treatment received.

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