Coping with a serious illness is challenging in itself, from emotional strain to related treatments that can cause physical upset or fatigue. Sometimes, however, the disease or its necessary therapies can also cause pain, a side effect that may become a predominant symptom. In some cases, this pain can continue for longer than 6 months, at which point it is considered chronic pain. About 100 million Americans have chronic pain, which can range from slight to unbearable, and at its worst can drastically disrupt a patient’s daily life or mood.
Chronic pain is classified as mild to severe pain that does not go away. Shooting, burning, or aching sensations are common; the pain may leave you feeling uncomfortable, sore, or stiff. If lasting pain is having a negative effect on your ability to manage a chronic condition, exploring different avenues for pain management could make a big difference in your overall outlook and health.
The Source of Pain
Pain related to serious illness may be caused by several factors, including:
- Direct effects. For example, lower back pain and osteoarthritis can result from prior injuries, possibly due to a fall.
- Severity of treatment. Surgery, medications, or other therapies can bring side effects, including headaches or pain at incision sites.
- Lingering after-effects. Generalized muscle or nerve pain (such as neuropathy, which can develop as a result of diabetes) may also reach chronic levels.
Other times, pain can start without a clear cause. Regardless, whether a single reason or a complex combination of factors is the source, chronic pain is considered a separate condition from the predominating illness, and merits specialized attention and treatment.
Pain Control Options
A major resource for pain control is medications, which may include over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription anticonvulsants or opioids. Finding the right pain treatment means taking your existing drug regimen into account, so your doctor and medical team will work closely with you to find the best method to relive your pain. If you are still experiencing pain after being on a medication for a while, be sure to tell your doctor — it may be time to try something else.
Some holistic and natural remedy options have also been found to help with pain relief. Turmeric and ginger have been shown to relieve pain associated with arthritis and joints, which may arise after an accident such as a fall or an orthopedic surgery. Feverfew can lessen headache pain. Low-impact exercise can have positive effects, as well as acupuncture treatment.
Other pain management options that may be prescribed or recommended by your doctor include physical or occupational therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, antidepressant drugs, or psychological therapy, all of which have been shown to have benefit for some patients.
Prioritizing Pain Relief
Pain that is not adequately controlled can increase an individual’s risk for a fall, especially if an orthopedic ailment or surgery is the source. Therefore, if you are having a difficult time managing pain, it may be time to seek palliative care in addition to curative treatment. For example, Residential Home Health’s Comfort Path palliative-focused home care program offers dedicated symptom and pain management that works alongside the primary course of treatment prescribed by your doctor.
Whatever your situation, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns, describe your symptoms, ask questions, and investigate your many options for better comfort and quality of life. The aggravation of chronic pain can indeed be reduced with time and expert attention, so continue working with your doctor or palliative care team to find the best solution for you.
To determine whether Comfort Path, Residential Home Health’s palliative program, is right for you, or to learn about home health care services that can help in your specific situation, call (888)930-WELL (9355) to speak with a nurse today, or click here to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.