By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer
In both acute and chronic health
conditions, pain is top on the list of
concerns for patients, caregivers and
physicians. Effective pain control
improves the individual’s state of mind and
ability to move through the healing process.
There are a variety of options for pain
control, and doctors work toward addressing
side effects that can occur with pain
Coming to terms with being in pain, acute or
chronic, is a hurdle for many folks who grew
up learning to “put aside” pain.
Individuals who have been vocal about pain
levels and received negative responses may
feel angry, refusing treatment as an
expression of emotional pain.
Fortunately, pain control centers,
physicians and other healthcare personnel
have become more aware over the years.
Asking about pain levels during office
visits is as common as checking vital signs.
TYPES OF PAIN
Acute pain can occur at the same time
chronic pain is experienced. The
euphemism “breakthrough pain” is one type of
acute pain an individual can undergo.
This pain can occur because of movement or
activity, but it can also happen when the
body has involuntary movements, such as
expelling gas or muscle twitches.
Medication can be prescribed for the “break”
in pain that around the clock medicating
Breakthrough pain may occur in the same area
as the chronic pain, but not always.
Noting the events leading up to the episode
of breakthrough pain can help caregivers
adjust activity levels if needed. In
some cases, the area in pain and/or the
event that contributes to it cannot be
pinned down. Recording episodes,
including seemingly random incidents, will
still help when pain management is reviewed.
When pain resurfaces before the next
scheduled dose of medication and isn’t
associated with a voluntary or involuntary
action, the physician can be notified to
examine the timing and amount of around the
clock medication. Noticing the time of
pain onset and keeping a record can help the
doctor make a decision about keeping pain
relief consistent. Caregivers will
find their loved one complains at or about
the same interval of time prior to their
Chronic pain is consistent and “stable.”
While there may be some fluctuating of
intensity, it is “reliable” in its
characteristics. Medication for this
type of pain is generally around the clock
to provide continuity of relief. Over
time, medications are adjusted to account
for changes in the pain cycle, including a
patient’s tolerance to a given dosage.
AGE DOESN’T MATTER
Children and adolescents with cancer or AIDS
experience pain just as deeply as an adult.
They may be better equipped to admit to pain
and track where they are hurting, as opposed
to adults who may have dementia as a
hindrance to assessment.