Pain is one of the more interesting things about our brain and bodies. At its most basic, biological level, pain is an unpleasant sensation somewhere in our bodies that our brain and nerves tell us to feel.
It’s certainly something that residents of Mt. Vernon and elsewhere try to avoid when possible whether they’re in good health or receiving palliative care. It’s also something that in small quantities is only an inconvenience. But in large amounts or even small amounts over extended periods of time, pain can make someone just feel tired and worn out in all areas of their lives.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is familiar with pain since many of our patients are dealing with it to some degree. And to be honest, some of the staff may be dealing with their own pain as well.
Some patients may have been dealing with similar pain for years, such as an old injury that never has healed well. Or, they may have sustained recent injuries or health conditions that caused them varying amounts of pain, everything from broken bones to internal pain of some diseases like cancers.
We also know that some types of pain can be relative, sometimes without a great reason for it. Something may be a small ache one day and then flare up to something past uncomfortable a few days later. Medication, diet, and even exercise can all play factors – too much or even not enough of any of these areas or even the wrong combination can all increase pain levels.
That’s also why many medical professionals use a “face” chart rather than asking the patient/patient to describe how intense their pain is. Different degrees of smiley or frowny faces from a scale of 1-10 are sometimes more accurate of a standard than trying to assess whether something hurts a little, some or a whole lot.
Learning more about pain
Because pain is so, well, personal, it also helps to learn more about how pain is perceived, who suffers from pain, along with different methods to treat or at least manage it.
That’s why this month has included a national and multi-national global focus on pain and pain relief. Since 2001, the American Chronic Pain Association has been celebrating Pain Awareness Month each September. Although the ACPA has been around for 30 years, association officials decided to spread the word at a larger level that year.
This outreach includes bringing in partners in health care which also are interested in focusing on pain management and pain reduction. It encourages local communities to let their residents know more about pain resources in their areas, and remove some of the myths and even some of the stigmas around pain or those who experience.
The theme for 2019 is “#Letstalkaboutpain” and invites and empowers people to discuss pain with their health provider easier, and invites health providers to look and listen better. Traditionally, there are a lot of reasons why people won’t talk about any pain they’re experiencing: some may not want to be a bother to others or share their feelings when others are experiencing pain that seems similar or worse than what they’re experiencing.
Pain in palliative care settings
If you’re not familiar with palliative care, it’s an approach to medical care that focuses more on helping a patient achieve a good quality of life, rather than having him or her deal with invasive or risky methods designed to cure and heal that may not work. For instance, someone receiving traditional care may be asked to stay in a hospital for an extended period of time so they can receive more tests and painful procedures.
Or, under palliative care, they may be sent home with the instruction to visit or at least contact the doctor regularly to let them know how you’re feeling. A provider may prescribe home health care to help with any physical needs, or in other cases, a patient with a terminal health condition may be put on hospice care which also can have a similar approach to pain management.
For instance, a patient may have high amounts of pain from whatever condition they’re dealing with. By communicating honestly with their provider or even their nurses, they can be put on a certain amount of pain medicine to help them deal with whatever pain they’re experiencing.
It’s definitely a fine line: too high can make someone less responsive or not be able to interact well with those around them. Too little can make it difficult to function because the pain remains too strong. All of these levels can be adjusted on a regular basis based on what a patient is feeling and experiencing.
Patients on hospice care also may be given access to stronger pain medication, since there’s less fear of long-term damage or addiction.
Conversations about pain management can be held between a patient, their families, their provider, and perhaps a palliative care specialist.