Pain & Symptom Management
With compassionate care and effective pain and symptom management, most people can be kept relatively comfortable and clear-headed, free to enjoy the company of family and friends.
Pain 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 and immobilization. Pain can be an overwhelming and all-consuming experience for people and their loved ones.
People 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 symptom management, people can work closely with medical professionals to be informed with, and actively involved in, the different methods of treatment.
Despite recent advances in understanding and managing pain, many people with cancer experience pain. They may assume that pain and cancer go together and that pain is inevitable. Some people may not want to distract from treating the cancer or may view talking about pain as complaining. There may be concerns about addiction, particularly for opioid drugs.
Experts have been fighting these misconceptions for years since cancer pain can be effectively controlled in many cases. People are becoming knowledgeable about options for controlling pain and how to access services available for managing it. Experts stress that few people who take pain medications for cancer pain become addicted. At end of life, addiction is not an issue and the dose of medication can continue to be increased as the pain increases. There is no restriction to the pain medication dosage. However, at times a patient may choose doses of certain medications that support them to be as alert as possible, even if they are less comfortable. Many conversations with families and the palliative care team take place to achieve the desired effects of the medications based on the most important goals of care for each individual’s quality of life.