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Medication Management

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Caregivers Providing Pain Management

by Jude Roberts, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)

Some of the non-drug pain interventions, known as complementary and alternative therapies, include the use of massage therapy, meditation, acupuncture, and herbal treatments. Something as simple as the use of heat and cold, which can be administered by a caregiver at home, can help to relieve pain. You can get this information from a medical professional, and they can provide you with a skin care plan, information on positioning, and the proper use of heat and cold. Heat generally relaxes the muscles and gives a sense of comfort; however, do not set heating pads on high because they may burn the skin quite easily. Remember not to place heating pads over or near areas where radiation marks are on the skin, even when the treatments are over. Warm showers, baths, hot water bottles and warm washcloths can be soothing as well. Cold is best used to alleviate pain that comes from inflammation or swelling, soothing the muscles and skin. Physical therapists can provide you with information on appropriate exercises, massages or equipment that can help patients move with less pain. For example, massage sore spots like the back, neck and shoulders using smooth, long strokes for about three minutes. Itís best to use a lubricant that has been warmed, and this can be done by placing a bottle of lotion into a sink of hot water for 10 minutes.

Here are a few more suggestions on how a caregiver can be a productive member of the pain management/palliative care team:

  • Educate yourself on pain management
  • Take part in the pain management program by learning what is needed, providing encouragement and reminders
  • Help keep daily information about the kind of pain a loved one is experiencing
  • Check on the level of pain being experienced by using a 10-point rating scale (one being the least amount of pain, and 10 being the worst level of pain)
  • Ask questions of the doctor; seek consultation with a pain specialist if you are not satisfied with the doctor's recommendations
  • Provide your loved one with distractions that will help get their mind off the pain
  • Maintain open communication about any pain-related concerns

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