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Pain Management in Palliative Care


Updated December 09, 2009

Pain in a complex symptom; there are several types of pain and many causes of it. Pain is also extremely personal and unique to the person experiencing it. For these reasons, pain management is also complex and deeply personal.

Management of pain in the palliative care setting has evolved a great deal in recent years. Physicians and patients often choose to take a multidirectional approach, using more than one type of treatment to alleviate pain.

1. What is Pain?

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Before beginning any pain management, it's important to understand what pain is and why it happens.

2. Pain Assessment Basics

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Assessing someone's pain is easy to do when they can tell you exactly where and how bad it hurts. The task is more difficult, but not impossible, to do if they can't.

3. Breaking the Pain Cycle: Managing Breakthrough Pain

Breakthrough pain is pain that occurs despite around-the-clock pain medication. It's a distressing symptom and needs to be treated promptly. Find out how to recognize and treat breakthrough pain.

4. How Often Should I Take or Give Pain Medications?

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This is a common question asked by patients and their caregivers who want adequate pain control but don't want to overdose on their medications.

5. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Acetaminophen, widely known as Tylenol, is the most commonly used medication to treat mild pain. It's also a component of many other narcotic pain relievers, such as Vicodin, which makes knowing the benefits and risks of acetaminophen important for everyone.

6. Ibuprofen and Other NSAIDs

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), like acetaminophen, are a class of medications used to treat mild pain. Unlike acetaminophen, NSAIDs also reduce inflammation.

7. Morphine Use in Palliative Care

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Morphine has become the "gold standard" for pain control in palliative care. It's also useful for treating shortness of breath. Find out more about morphine, including risks and side effects.

8. What You Need to Know About Methadone

Methadone is not a new medication, but it's gaining ground as a preferred drug to treat severe pain in palliative care patients. Here's what you need to know about methadone.

9. Why Would I Use Methadone?

An overview of methadone's pain-relieving properties in comparison to morphine. Should you be taking methadone for your pain?

10. Demerol

Demerol is no longer recommended for pain control. There are far better medications to relieve pain with less risks and side effects. Find out why Demerol has been removed from most hospitals and outpatient clinics for treatment of pain and why it might still be used.

11. Will I Become Addicted to Narcotic Pain Medication?

Addiction is a concern for many patients taking narcotic pain medications and their loved ones. Do you need to be worried?

12. Medical Marijuana FAQ's

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The use of marijuana for medical treatment is a hot topic of debate. Find answers to some frequently asked questions about medical marijuana.
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How to Choose Pain Medication
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