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Palliative care - managing pain

End of life - pain management; Hospice - pain management

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Description

When you have a serious illness, you may have pain. No one can look at you and know how much pain you have. Only you can feel and describe your pain. There are many treatments for pain. Tell your health care providers about your pain so that they can use the right treatment for you.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is a holistic approach to care that focuses on treating pain and symptoms and improving quality of life in people with serious illnesses and a limited life span.

When you Have Pain

Pain that is always or almost always present can lead to lack of sleep, depression, or anxiety. These can make it harder to do things or go places, and harder to enjoy life. Pain can be stressful for you and your family. But with treatment, pain can be managed.

How Pain is Measured

First, your provider will find out:

You can tell your provider how much pain you have by measuring it on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (the worst pain possible). You choose the number that describes how much pain you have now. You can do this before and after treatments, so you and your health care team can tell how well your treatment works.

How Pain is Treated

There are many treatments for pain. Which treatment is best for you depends on the cause and amount of your pain. Several treatments may be used at the same time for the best pain relief. These include:

You can also take medicines, such as:

What you can do

Understand your medicines, how much to take, and when to take them.

If you have concerns about your pain medicine, talk to your provider.

Some people who take narcotics for pain become dependent on them. If you are concerned about this, talk to your provider.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if your pain is not well controlled or if you have side effects from your pain treatments.

References

Colvin LA, Fallon M. Pain and palliative care. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 34.

House SA. Palliative and end-of-life care. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2022. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:40-45.

Lookabaugh BL, Von Gunten CF. Approach to the management of cancer pain. In: Benzon HT, Raja SN, Liu SS, Fishman SM, Cohen SP, eds. Essentials of Pain Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 34.

Rakel RE, Trinh TH. Care of the dying patient. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 5.

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Review Date: 1/18/2022  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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06/01/2025

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