As health care professionals, we encounter patients experiencing and living with painful conditions every day. For most patients, their first encounter with chronic pain can be life-altering and often depressing. Pain can cause problems with mobility and sleep, and can keep you from enjoying life to its fullest.
Chronic pain is pain or discomfort that lasts for a long period of time. The pain can come and go for months or even years. If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic pain, the home care professionals at Nightingale Homecare are here to help shed some light on how to manage the pain with the help of your health care professional.
Pain is an experience we medical folks call “subjective,” as the person experiencing the pain is the only one who can validate and confirm its quality, quantity, location and type of discomfort being experienced. Of course, there are “objective” side effects that health professionals understand to be responses to pain: grimacing, elevated blood pressure, limited movement, moaning, gripping, elevated pulse and respirations; however, a patient’s own report of pain is the only way the health care provider can really know how a person feels.
Below are some answers to questions about chronic pain you may have wondered about:
Q. Is chronic pain just part of growing old?
A. No. Pain is very common in older people, but it is not normal, nor is it healthy. It should not be ignored or assumed that it is a “part of getting older.”
Q. How can I explain my pain to my doctor or nurse?
A. At Nightingale Homecare, we recommend all our patients use a “Pain Diary.” If you don’t already have one, ask us for one! This will help you tell your medical professionals what they need to know in order to assist in treating your pain. It is helpful for the patient, or a loved one, to make note of the pain at the time it is occurring, as often it is difficult for anyone to recall the specifics of a pain episode after it is over.
Q. What are the side effects from medicines that help pain?
A. Any medicine, whether OTC or prescription, may cause side effects:
- Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage and other organ damage.
- NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen, when used for a long period of time, can cause problems such as indigestion, stomach ulcers, easy bruising, or bleeding, and should not be used by patients with kidney disease or those with a high risk of stroke or heart attack, unless advised by the doctor.
- Opioid medicines can cause drowsiness and constipation. Although the side effects are less harmful than those caused by NSAIDs, they can be habit forming, but can be safely stopped with gradual dose reductions.
Q. What can I do besides taking medicines?
A. Exercise, such as yoga and tai chi, can be extremely helpful. Physical therapy, exercise, or fitness programs can also improve your physical strength, range of motion of your joints and limbs, walking stability, and endurance. Other non-drug treatments, such as the use of heat, cold, massage, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), may help some people. Other mental and physical treatments such as relaxation, meditation, music and distraction may help as well.
Where can I get more information about chronic pain management?
There is no reason to suffer silently with persistent pain as you get older. Nightingale Homecare understands that adequate pain management improves quality of life and preserves the ability to carry out the activities of daily life. From evaluating the source of pain and determining how to best control it, to assisting with physical therapy exercises and implementing pain management techniques, the professional staff at Nightingale Homecare have made us a leader in Phoenix home care companies. Call (602) 504-1555 or contact us online to find out more about the Arizona homecare services provided by Nightingale Homecare.