WHAT IS PAIN?
Pain is whatever an individual says it is and an understanding of the pain that can only be felt and defined by that person. While pain affects the individual experiencing it, it also can affect the loved ones and caregivers surrounding the individual. Although not every patient will experience pain when they are approaching the end of their life, it is important to know how to recognize and help manage your loved one’s pain.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PAIN
Pain can be expressed in a variety of forms. For example, an individual may report pain as a sensation as described below in addition to many other descriptive words.
Pain may be reported as:
- General discomfort
We often relieve on our loved ones to tell us that they are in pain but that is not always possible. We must long for not verbal cues that they are experiencing pain or discomfort.
- These include but are not limited to:
- Facial grimacing
- Furrowed brow
- Tense muscles
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR LOVED ONE TO GAIN AN UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR PAIN
- Ask: “How severe is your pain on a scale of 0 to 10? 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you have experienced in your life.”
- Additionally, you can ask your loved one to rate it in the form of no pain, mild pain, moderate pain, or sever pain. Ask our team other ways in which you can check the severity of pain. Reassess the pain severity 30 minutes to an hour after medication as well.
- Ask: “What does the pain feel like?
- Looking for descriptive words like constant, burning, sharp, stabbing etc.
- Ask: “Where is the pain located?
- Have your loved one tell you or point to the area that is hurting.
- Look for grabbing at certain body parts or if your loved one is guarding an area (not letting you touch a certain region or reluctant to move a certain body part)
- Ask: “Does the pain come and go, or is the pain constant?”
- Ask: “What makes the pain feel worse?”
- Does activity seem to make the pain worse, is it sitting in a certain position that makes your loved one uncomfortable?
- Look for times of increased facial grimacing or patterns of behavior when completing various activities that may clue in to pain. Ask the nursing team for some input on what to look for.
- Ask: “What makes the pain feel better?” “Is the pain medication working?”
- Talk with the Honor Hospice team on some non-pharmacological options to help with pain.
HOW TO HELP
If you or your loved one does experience pain, there are ways that that pain can be managed. Our team will work with you to guide you to using the necessary combination of nonpharmacological (non-medication) and pharmacological (medication) treatments.
Nonpharmacological interventions for pain include:
- Heat or Cold
- Music Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Deep breathing
- Guided imagery/Mediation
There are multiple pharmacological interventions to treat pain. Speak with our team to help determine some options that may be good for your loved one based on their current condition, type and intensity of pain being experienced, and their past response to pain medications.
Early and adequate pain management is essential to prevent pain from getting worse and preserve your loved one’s dignity.
WHEN TO CONTACT THE HONOR HOSPICE TEAM
- If you would like to speak about pain management options
- If your loved one is having persistent and/or uncontrolled pain
- The current medication regimen does not seem to be working