Pain management provides comfort at end of life


A common fear of terminally ill patients and their loved ones is that the patient will experience great suffering and pain. Many of us are more afraid of dying in pain than of death itself.
 
Start a conversation with your loved ones about a plan for pain management and palliative care to control symptoms and discomfort.
 
Pain management options include:

  • Medications (narcotics and non-narcotics)
  • Surgery and nerve blocks
  • Relaxation therapies
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage
  • Good nursing care

Causes of pain

Terminally ill patients experience pain and suffering for a variety of reasons.
  • Reluctance to tell others about their pain
  • Unwillingness by providers and family to accept severity of reported pain by the patient
  • Consideration of pain taken less seriously by providers than other aspects of the patient’s illness
  • Lack of information about the medications and other effective and appropriate methods to reduce pain
  • Fear that providing or taking narcotics will lead to addiction
  • Lack of access to sufficient quantities of narcotics for patients who need very high dosages
  • Fear of causing death by providing aggressive pain management
People with terminal illness may require extremely large doses of narcotics to control pain. Clinical studies show that taking narcotics for pain management rarely leads to psychologically addiction. However, myths about addiction can cause serious barriers to effective pain management. Fears of causing death also can affect good pain management plans.

Team approach to care

We provide holistic care to aggressively manage pain for our hospice patients. Ask your physician about the right time to start hospice. Assistance with good pain management can provide a better sense of wellbeing at the end of life.
 
It is important to recognize that disease causes the death, not medications and procedures used to control pain. Pain management is provided simply to keep the dying person comfortable.

How to ensure good pain management

  • Ask your healthcare providers about their approach to pain management caused by your illness. Different illnesses may require different approaches. Your provider should have a plan to ensure you have access to appropriate pain specialists.
  • Consider trade-offs you are willing to make for pain management. Some people would rather endure more pain if it would mean they would be more alert.
  • Let your caregivers know when you are in pain. You have a right to expect your pain to be taken seriously.
  • Describe your pain as specifically as possible.
    • How does pain affect your ability to do specific things?
    • When is it better or worse?
    • Where does the pain fall on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • Follow the pain management plan that you and your providers put in place. The goal of good pain management is to prevent you from experiencing pain. Once you are in pain, it requires much more medication to bring the pain under control.

We can help

Learn more about end-of-life care or contact Goshen Hospice, (574) 364-2700.

Download your copy of “Approaching the End of Life” Guide