Caregiving can be extremely challenging, especially when they are suffering from chronic pain. As a caregiver, you should know the basics of pain management. Here we can help with some basic information.
How to evaluate the pain?
Every person’s pain is different. Different people has different pain tolerance. Moreover, you cannot measure pain level using machines or medical tests. The best way to know is to ask about the pain your patient is having. You can ask the patient to rate the pain on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain ever.
When your patient answer, you need to believe in them and do not question or argue. Pain is often undertreated, especially if there are no physical symptoms.
Your patients might mention feeling pain by different words such as “discomfort,” or “soreness,” or “ache.” Sometimes the patients might not talk about their pain at all. You need to listen to what your patient says and look for behaviour changes. Facial grimacing or groaning are a common indicator of pain.
What are some methods of pain management?
Being a caregiver, you have to know ways to control the patient’s pain. You could discuss with the doctor on pain medications and therapy to reduce pain. Medications are a common method to reduce pain. You can use over the counter medicines to treat your patient’s pain, or follow the doctor’s prescription.
Normally the doctor will prescribe pain medicines. Your job is to make sure the patients use pain medicines as prescribed. Some medication is used only when pain occurs, but some are used at certain times even when there is no pain. Even so, you must stick to the prescription to keep the pain at bay so the patient does not have to suffer.
Besides drugs, you can suggest therapy for your patients. Many available therapies prove to be effective in pain management.
- Acupuncture is a technique that uses thin needles to stimulate pressure points on the body.
- Massage is where the therapist uses their hands, fingers or forearms to rub press or stimulate the muscle and joints to promote relaxation.
- Physical therapy includes many techniques to help improve the body’s movement, function and decrease pain. Some of them are movement, exercises, water therapy, ultrasound, heat, and ice.
- Tai chi is an ancient art from China that is somewhat like a combination of yoga and meditation. Tai chi includes soft, slow movements. It encourages self-control and helps calm the mind.
You should consider the patient’s condition before giving medication or advising on a therapy. For example, if the patient is experiencing pain from liver disease, you should not give acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
There are new reliefs for pain management, such as new drugs or electrical stimulation. Be open to new technologies and ideas. You should also educate the patient and their family on pain management as well.
Help to reduce pain
You can make small changes in the patient’s lifestyle to reduce pain. You can advise them to use heat and cold therapy.
Heat therapy is simple. It includes warm showers, baths, hot water bottles, and warm washcloths. Heat relaxes muscles, which can help reduce pain, and gives a sense of comfort.
For cold therapy, you can use ice or a cold pack to cool the skin of your patients to sooth pain, especially pain that comes from inflammation or swelling. However, remember to put a layer of clothes between the ice and the skin.
You should maximize the patient’s comfort and relaxation. Even small things like putting a pillow or cushion can avoid giving the patients pain. You can learn about breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to teach your patients.
When should I report pain symptoms to the doctor?
If the pain medicines do not work or stop working, you should report to the doctor and ask them to try new treatment until the pain is controlled. You need to keep the doctor as well as medical team informed about the patient’s well-being. You should report to the doctor if:
- The pain does not stop after taking medication.
- The medications stop working.
- New pain occurs even with medication.
- Side effects of pain medication appear.
If any of these symptoms occur, you should seek medical attention immediately:
- Your patient is unable to move or cope with pain, or if pain prevents daily activities.
- Your patient’s sleep pattern is interrupted by pain often.
Before calling emergency, you should prepare this information to answer the doctor or medical team:
- Is it a new pain or recurring pain?
- How long has the pain happened?
- Where is the pain? How severe is it? How does your patient describe it?
- Is the patient able to perform daily activities? Is there any activity that makes the pain worse?
- What medication or therapy is given before?
- Are your patients allergic to any medicines?
Generally, you need to keep an eye on your patient and take notes of any reaction to medication or therapy. Caring a person with pain can be challenging and difficult. Keep the doctor or nurse informed about any changes in pain.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Caregiver Cornerstones. http://www.partnersagainstpain.com/pain-management/caregiver/. Accessed September 10, 2016.
Pain in the Elderly: When Someone You Love Is in Pain. http://www.partnersagainstpain.com/pain-caregiver/elderly/. Accessed September 10, 2016.
Chronic Pain Relief: New Treatments. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/features/chronic-pain-relief-new-treatments. Accessed September 10, 2016.