When you feel discomfort across any body part, you’re feeling pain. This concept is a subjective one because everyone has a different tolerance for pain. A cut on the finger could be a bother for one person, whereas it’s a stinging sensation over many hours for other individuals. Pain is generally divided into two categories, including chronic and acute types.
A chronic pain tends to last over several days, weeks or years. This pain, however, usually remains as a mild to moderate feeling. In contrast, an acute pain is sharp and isolated. It may be extremely painful, but it only lasts a short time. In the end, you are the only person that can really describe your pain effectively to another person.
How Does Cancer Contribute to Pain?
Cancer is a widespread disease that can affect nearly any part of the body. You might know people who seem perfectly healthy, but they’re currently fighting a cancer diagnosis. These individuals may be in mild, moderate or severe pain because cancer affects everyone differently. A tumor might grow large and press against organs, for example. Nerve and blood vessel pain is common because of multiple cancerous tumors growing throughout the body. When a patient has metastasized, cancer can even clog blood vessels. In addition, pain levels are often defined by the cancer’s stage. A terminal patient in stage 4 breast cancer will usually be in more pain than a stage 1 patient.
Your pain doesn’t have to be directly caused by the cancer itself either. Strong treatments, from biopsies to chemotherapy, create painful conditions for your body as it heals afterward. In these cases, your pain relief might be a slow process because the body is trying to fight the cancer and recover from a stressful surgery simultaneously. Pain can also be related to your psychological health. Worries over the disease and other concerns can easily create headaches and body aches.
What Are Patients’ Options to Manage Daily Pain?
Pain can be a debilitating feeling that affects both your mind and body. Finding the root cause of the pain is the smartest way to combat it. Initially, your doctor will evaluate the painful area using basic physical cues. You might require a biopsy where part or all of the tumor is removed. Although you’ll have pain after the surgery, you should feel relief in the area because the accumulation is no longer taking up space in your body.
Doctors use other treatments to reduce pain too, such as radiation therapy. However, there are times when treating the pain symptoms is necessary. You could receive pain medication and alternative relief options. Mental imagery and relaxation techniques are often taught for moderate pain relief.
How Can I Describe My Pain Level to My Caregivers?
Communication is critical when you’re experiencing pain. A good pain description requires creative words to truly convey the intensity. Doctors use your description as a reference point for the right pain management treatment. Regardless of your prognosis, each patient deserves as much pain control as necessary to remain comfortable. When you experience pain, pay attention to its details. It might be localized to one area or widespread across your entire body. Pain could last a few minutes or linger for hours.
Ask yourself if you did anything before the pain that might have encouraged its arrival. Getting up too quickly, bending in an unusual direction or falling down can easily create a painful situation. If you were able to control the pain in the past by yourself, tell your doctor what you did. Taking a pain reliever or stretching the affected area could have helped your situation. Your pain description tells a lot about your condition.
If you suffer from constant, sharp pains in a localized region, your doctor may take more drastic measure to figure out the cause compared to a dull ache lasting only a few minutes. When pain occurs, it’s the body telling you that tissue is either breaking down or failing altogether. Tell your caregiver about every pain episode, so that they can truly understand your predicament.
Common Effects of Pain
Pain will affect nearly every aspect of your life. Consider these pain symptoms and effects within your life:
How Can I Convey That My Pain is Very Intense?
- Work and personal limitations
- Mood swings
- Digestive system problems
- Dizzy sensation
- Chronic fatigue
- Excessive sweating
- Other Symptoms
Quantifying your pain is an intelligent way to consistently convey its intensity. You might use a number scale between 0 and 10, for example. A high number corresponds to a more intense pain sensation. When you have a cancer or other life-limiting illness diagnosis, you’ll be constantly asked for your pain level. Tell your doctor that you’re using a 0-to-10 scale and stick with that valuation. After chemotherapy, you could say your pain level is an 8 or 9.
As you recover from this treatment, the pain number should drop below 5. Doctors also want to know if your pain is a constant in your life. For chronic aches affecting you every moment of the day, a pain valuation of 4 or 5 might be sufficient. Be truthful about these intensities at all times. Don’t try to act tough and lower your intensity level when it’s truly unbearable. Doctors will always have some pain-relief choice available to you based on your everyday experiences. Medical professionals cannot be with you 24-hours-a-day so it’s up to you to communicate effectively at each appointment.
Do I Have to Remember Every Detail of My Pain For Better Healthcare?
Ideally, doctors need every detail possible about your daily pain levels to treat you effectively. Because it’s impossible to remember every detail, dedicate a composition notebook to your pain details. Keep this diary near you and record dates and times for all pain milestones. Note the time that the pain begins and its intensity level. Remember to write down when the pain ended. It’s important to note if you took any pain-control measures during that uncomfortable episode.
Ask yourself if you stretched or took a prescription pill. Document when you performed the pain-control method and if you feel like it worked. It’s even important to write down if you used any mental relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing. Your doctor can use this information to treat you more effectively in the future. They may even scan the information into your medical chart and create a detailed account of your treatment too.
How Are Depression and Anxiety Related to Pain?
Pain isn’t directly caused by mental anguish, but it can be exasperated by it. It’s understandable if you’re worried or anxious about your prognosis. Dealing with mortality on a personal level is a serious subject. You might feel mad, scared, alone and hopeless all at one time. All of these conflicting emotions can make your pain seem worse than it really is. When you feel overwhelmed by your predicament, talking about it is the first step toward some mental relief.
Choose a trusted family member or friend to talk to on a serious level. You’re always welcome to contact our organization, so that we can offer you the appropriate support services for your situation. No patient can face every challenge alone. Our resources can help you find some solace.
Additional Support for Cancer Patients
Speak to your doctor about finding a mental health professional who specializes in cancer patients. In some cases, you might need a one-on-one meeting with a professional to dive deeper into your problems. Psychiatrists are there to listen and offer support whenever necessary. In fact, you can find pain relief within these sessions just by discussing your feelings. The professional may find it necessary to prescribe antidepressants to help you deal with the cancer diagnosis.
It’s even possible for your doctor and mental health professional to work together for your overall pain relief. When your mind and body are treated with the proper medications, you’ll perceive less pain as a result. Regularly update your doctor about your psychiatric sessions, so that your treatment progresses at a steady pace. With mental relief comes acceptance of your situation and possible hope for remission.
Sleep, Fatigue and Pain Relationships
When you sleep, your body focuses on healing itself. Although sleep doesn’t heal your illness, rest does ward off some of your daily pain. However, you might deal with insomnia caused by diagnosis stress. As a result, you feel more pain as the insomnia continues. Ideally, add any restless nights to your pain diary, so that your doctor can treat you appropriately. They may have some solutions to help you rest soundly.
What if I Have Phantom Limb Pain?
The medical world is still researching the exact cause for phantom limb pain. This pain occurs when you have a body part removed, but you still feel discomfort in that area. Mastectomies and limb removal procedures often precede the phantom limb pain. Speak to your doctor about this pain if it does occur. Currently, medical professionals use a mixture of different treatment options to ward off this frustrating pain.
You might have physical therapy and medications added to your treatment, for example. Some doctors even incorporate nerve therapy into pain management for phantom limb. It’s important to remember than any pain you feel is real, and it should be brought up with a doctor. Your caregiver can use that information to further your treatment.
Is Pain Manageable?
Cancer pain and pain from other diseases is manageable when doctors combine several treatments for optimal results. Each patient is unique, and responds differently to every treatment type. The first course of action is to always focus on the pain’s immediate cause. By using various therapies and surgeries on the tumor, your pain should diminish quickly afterward. For many cancer patients, pharmacological pain relief is a core part of the treatment process. This relief is in the form of medications. For mild or moderate pain, a doctor could suggest an over-the-counter medication. However, most cancer pain requires stronger drugs in the long run.
Doctors could write a prescription for stronger pain relievers that must be renewed with each refill. It’s important to note that these medications may have side effects. When a cancer patient suffers from tumor spread or metastasis, radiation therapy is often the only reliable route to pain relief. This therapy applies a controlled amount of radiation across the tumor. The growth should shrink with each therapy session, and your pain diminishes too. Taking noninvasive measures to control pain is a smart addition to any treatment program. Distraction, skin stimulation, imagery and relaxation techniques are all effective treatment types.
What Are the Basics Regarding Pain Relief?
Tackle pain the moment you notice it creeping into you life. When the pain is mild, you have a clearer mind to deal with the situation. Go through various pain-relief methods, and find out which ones work for you. You may have a pain medication, but it works better when you combine it with stretching and breathing. Write down the combination of pain-relief methods that you use and how effective they were. When you find a combination that works for you, it can be your automatic response in the future. You must be aware that this effective pain control combination may not work every time. Don’t become frustrated or hopeless when pain doesn’t seem to go away.
At this point, you must try other pain-relief methods. For example, you may have avoided nerve stimulation therapy in the past. However, that procedure might help you through this current pain episode. Keep trying different remedies and combinations until you find relief. In some cases, you might need to contact your doctor, so that you can confirm the best choices for you. Remember that your disease takes a physical toll on you. If you’re feeling particularly tired, don’t try to stimulate your mind with a distraction technique. Use a more passive pain-control method, such as a hot-water bottle or ice pack.
You must listen to your body and mind when experimenting with different pain-relief methods. It’s possible for patients to use a half-dozen methods for pain relief over the course of several months. In the end, the effort it takes to find an effective pain-relief method is worth the trouble because the discomfort is much worse without it.
Do I Have Options If My Doctor Says Pain Management Isn’t Possible For Me?
Patients have to remember that doctors are human beings too. If one doctor feels that they’ve exhausted every pain-control method, you’re welcome to find a pain specialist as an acceptable alternative. Neurosurgeons, oncologists and anesthesiologists, for example, are all pain specialists. They can look over your medical history and devise an alternative pain-control method.
To find another doctor for your pain needs, contact Harbor Light Hospice at any time. Working with several professionals allows you to see the various pain-control options in the medical industry as everyone works to help you enhance your overall quality of life.