How Palliative Care Can Help With Pain and Treatment Side Effects
Palliative care is medical care that provides an extra layer of support for people who have serious and chronic illnesses. With palliative care, you have the help of a medical team who are experts in managing treatment side effects such as pain, shortness of breath, or nausea.
pain is not easy. But it is essential to your quality of life. For example,
pain can make you feel tired or depressed. It can also make it hard for your
body to heal.
always, pain can be controlled with the right medicines in the right amounts.
The goal of good pain management is to have the least possible pain with the
fewest side effects.
Palliative care providers are specially
trained to treat physical pain. They know about the medicines to control
various types of pain. Because each person responds differently to pain
medicines, it may take more than one try to find the best medicines for you.
Your palliative care team also may recommend treatments other than
medicines. These may include physical therapy, massage, or the use of heat or cold.
Sometimes emotional pain can make it harder to cope with physical pain.
Emotional pain can be difficult to treat with medicines, but it may be helped
with other types of therapy, such as
It is important to be open
and honest about your pain. You do not have to pretend you are strong or able
to handle pain. Telling your doctor exactly how you feel is one of the most
important parts of controlling pain. Your doctor may ask you:
Where do you feel pain?
What does it
feel like? Sharp? Dull? Throbbing? Burning? Steady?
How strong is
How long does the pain last?
the pain? What makes it worse?
What medicines do you take, and how
much do they help?
Which pain medicines have worked for you before?
Which have not helped?
How are you coping with your
Your palliative care doctor or nurse may ask you to rate your
pain on a scale of 0 to 10. Zero means no pain. Ten means the pain is as bad as
it can be.
Concerns about pain medicines
Many people who have a serious illness are concerned about becoming addicted to pain medicines. Addiction usually isn't an issue in people who don't have a history of substance abuse. If your pain or illness improves, your doctor can slowly and safely lower your dose of pain medicine until you don't need it any more.
While taking pain medicines, you may worry about feeling
tired or not thinking clearly. But these side effects often do not last. Many
people who take pain medicines for a long time do not have problems thinking
clearly. After you and your doctor find the right amount of medicine for you,
you may be able to drive, work, and do other activities.
are worried about side effects or about getting addicted to pain medicine, talk
to your doctor. He or she can talk to you about your concerns and about the best
medicines for you.
Your palliative care team can help with more than just pain. They can help you with problems such as shortness of breath, nausea, lack of energy, anxiety, depression, constipation, or difficulty sleeping.
Sometimes side effects bother
you more than anything else. Tell your palliative care provider about all of
your side effects. He or she may be able to give you medicines or other treatment that can help
You feel like you cannot breathe
You do not want to eat or you feel like you are going to
You feel tired or weak.
You have problems
You cannot have a bowel movement (constipation) or you
have problems urinating.
You have itchy skin or a dry
Your mind is changing or you cannot think
Your muscles are twitching or jerking.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerShelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.