Pain is a major concern for caregivers as it can affect all aspects of quality of life. People in pain may experience a decrease in their level of daily activity, disruption in sleep, decreased appetite, deterioration of interpersonal relationships, or even immobilization. Pain can be an overwhelming and all-consuming experience for patients and their caregivers.
Caregivers may feel a sense of helplessness and deep hurt in seeing their loved ones suffer. Suffering is experienced by the whole person and includes physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. Suffering is usually linked with physical pain, but it can be anything that threatens the intactness of a person.
To achieve good pain and suffering management patients and families need to work closely with medical professionals to be informed and actively involved in the different methods of treatment.
Cancer Pain is not necessary in most cases
Pain remains a major problem for people with cancer. Despite recent advances in understanding and managing pain, the majority of cancer patients experience pain that goes untreated or under-treated. A number of factors may help explain this, with the health care system, medical professionals, and patients all playing a role.
Busy physicians and nurses may lack incentives to spend time working with patients to manage pain. Many health care professionals themselves are inadequately trained to manage pain effectively.
Many patients assume that pain and cancer go hand-in-hand; that pain is inevitable and something to “tough out”, making them reluctant to mention pain. Some may not want to distract physicians from treating the cancer, or they may view talking about pain as complaining, as not being a “good” patient. There may be concerns about addiction and tolerance, particularly for opioid drugs.
Experts have been fighting these misconceptions for years; cancer pain can be effectively controlled in most cases. Such beliefs were common because people lacked knowledge about options for controlling pain and how to access services available for managing pain. Experts stress that few people who take pain medications for cancer become addicted.
With compassionate care and effective pain management, most people can be kept relatively comfortable and clear-headed, free to enjoy the company of family and friends.