Is pain affecting your quality of life? Palliative care can help.

November, 2016

If you have a serious illness, coping with pain can be a big part of your daily struggle. You are not alone. Many patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or kidney failure have pain that isn’t properly treated. Palliative care can help.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It will help manage your pain and other symptoms using methods that most doctors are not aware of. You can get palliative care at the same time as treatment for your disease. Palliative care gives you and your doctors an added layer of support, so that you can live as well as possible without pain.

Some patients don’t want to talk about pain. You might not want to bother your doctor. Please speak up! Pain can make it harder for you to cope with your medical treatments. Pain can slow your recovery, and it can make you depressed. Research shows that good control of pain and other symptoms can help you live longer.

Your pain might be dull or sharp. You might have it all the time or only sometimes. Your palliative care team will talk to you about your pain so they can choose the right medicine and the right dose to make you feel better. It may help to keep track of your pain by writing down how strong it is, where it is on your body, what makes it worse and what makes it better.

Your doctor may suggest using stronger medicines such as morphine to manage your pain. These medicines are safe and they work. Some patients are scared of becoming addicted to pain medication. Your doctor will explain that the risk of addiction is very low for people using these medicines to treat pain.

You may be worried about side effects from pain medicines. This could include feeling sleepy, confusion and constipation. Different people respond differently, but your palliative care team will help you manage them. Once a steady amount of the medicine stays in your body, the side effects usually get better.

There is no reason to put up with pain that stops you living a good life. Talk to your doctor about palliative care.

Listen to Malcolm’s story. Before palliative care, he experienced so much pain that it became hard to focus on anything else. Palliative care helped him cope with pain, and get back to focusing on what matters most to him: spending time with loved ones.