Pain is a major concern for family caregivers as it can affect all aspects of quality of life. People in pain may be immobilized by their symptoms, experience a decrease in their level of daily activity, and my have disruption in sleep, appetite and interpersonal relationships.
Caregivers may feel a sense of helplessness and deep hurt in seeing their loved ones suffer. Pain can be an overwhelming and all-consuming experience for patients and their caregivers.
Suffering is experienced by the whole person and includes physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of one’s life. Suffering is usually linked with physical pain, but it can be anything that threatens the intactness of a person.
In order to achieve good pain management (physical, emotional and/or spiritual), individuals and families need to work closely with doctors and nurses and be informed and actively involved in the different methods of treatment.
Cancer Pain is not necessary in most cases
Pain remains a major problem for people with cancer. Despite recent advances in understanding and managing pain, the majority of cancer patients experience pain that goes untreated or undertreated. A number of factors may help explain this, with the health care system, clinicians, and patients all playing a role.
Busy physicians and nurses may lack incentives to spend time talking with patients about managing pain. Many health care professionals themselves are not adequately trained in managing pain effectively. Many patients, for their part, are reluctant to mention pain. Some may not want to distract physicians from treating the cancer, or they may view talking about pain as complaining - as not being a "good" patient.
Most important, many assume that pain and cancer go hand-in-hand - that pain is inevitable, something to "tough out." In fact, cancer pain can be effectively controlled in most cases, and experts have been fighting these misconceptions for years. Such beliefs were common because people lack the knowledge about the options for controlling pain, the services available for managing pain, and how to access them.
Sometimes there are concerns about addiction and tolerance, particularly with respect to opioid drugs. Such concerns are common among people with cancer, though experts stress that few people who take pain medications for cancer become addicted to the medications.
Contact for help
Over 90% of cancer pain can be controlled. If pain and symptoms are not being managed well, Delta’s clinical nurse specialist can be reached at 946-1121, local 3249.
Information about the following is available at the Supportive Care Centre:
Understanding drug tolerance and the fear of addiction
Controlling symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
Non-drug management of pain, including heat, cold and relaxation techniques
Communication book with charts to record pain and other symptoms
Video – Managing Your Pain – for patients, families and caregivers.
The Supportive Care Centre staff is closely linked with the medical team and can assist in making a referral for management of pain or other symptoms. With compassionate care and effective pain management, most people can be kept relatively comfortable and clear-headed, free to enjoy the company of family and friends.