Pain is a hurting sensation that comes in many forms, such as throbbing or stabbing. Acute pain can arise suddenly. Chronic pain continues over time. Pain is not harmless:
- Pain can harm both physically and emotionally. It can also cause clinical depression and anxiety (which are both treatable).
- Pain absorbs energy and attention
- A person in pain is often irritable and self-involved.
- Relationships can suffer as a result of pain.
Pain does not have to be a part of your life. It is a treatable medical condition. Unfortunately, much chronic pain is left untreated or under-treated. As an example, according to Dr. Richard Payne, chief of the pain and palliative care service at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City; available treatments could relieve or adequately control pain in 88% of cancer patients. However, only about 50% of cancer patients receive adequate pain treatment.
Your treating doctor can prescribe drugs that relieve pain. There are also non-medical steps you can take to reduce or eliminate pain. If those are not sufficient for you, there are doctors who specialize in pain management. Focusing on pain and helping to eliminate it is known as palliative care. Palliative care used to only be given at end of life. It is now given as needed anywhere on the journey that starts with a diagnosis of a serious health condition.
There are a series of roadblocks that prevent adequate pain treatment. Understanding what the roadblocks are can help overcome them as you work with your doctor or other health care professional to relieve pain. For example: doctors who treat a serious disease tend to focus on cures for the disease instead of minimizing pain. Some people believe that good patients don't "complain" and tell doctors about pain. In fact, pain is information doctors need to know in order to provide proper treatment.
How far to go in treating pain is up to you.
If you prefer to be educated about how to reduce and possibly eliminate pain, take a few minutes to consider the suggested steps described in Treatments For Pain. (For instance, pain medication prescribed by your doctor is only one of the steps you can take to help relieve pain.) Then try the steps that work for you.
- Do not abuse pain medication by taking more than prescribed. Excess medication can lead to addiction. Some people report that addiction is worse than the disease itself.
- Keep pain medications away from underage children. Put them under lock and key if necessary.
- Sometimes pain cannot be eliminated entirely. In that case, learning how to cope with pain can be empowering.
- If you regularly use pain relievers and get headaches more than 15 days a month, the cause may be taking too many pain relievers. If this could be you, speak with your doctor before reducing or eliminating pain medications.
- It is worth keeping in mind that the experience of pain can be amplified by the meaning you give to pain. For example, if you think a pain means that your disease may be progressing. You can work on changing the meaning.
For information about pain, see:
- Pain, in general
- Treating pain
- How To Describe Pain
- Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Pain Relief
- Roadblocks To Adequate Pain Relief
- Treatments For Pain
- How To Find A Doctor Who Specializes In Pain Treatment (Palliative Care)
- How To Work With Your Doctor To Choose The Right Pain Treatment
- What You Can Do To Help Maximize Treatment For Pain
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What if my pain isn't controlled by my doctor?
- What if my doctor is not willing to give me a pain management plan?
- What if my doctor prescribes a one-size-fits-all pain medication schedule instead of one geared to my pain?
- Can I drink alcohol while taking pain medications?
- What if I see more than one doctor?
- If pain medications work for me, why should I also consider different methods of pain control?
- When I take pain medications, I get relief right away. What if the same thing doesn't happen with other treatments?
- What if my doctor recommends surgery to control pain?
- What if the pain gets me down?
- What if pain interferes with my work?
- Is pain relief addictive?
- What is palliative care?
- How To Connect With Other People In Pain