As your health care professional, we look and listen for certain factors that may help guide us with your pain management. Some of these include;
- Does anything bring on your pain? e.g. movement, bending over, laying to one side.
- Does anything make your pain better? e.g. medication, rest, deep breathing.
- Does anything make your pain worse? e.g. sitting up, heat, laying down.
- You can help your specialist by describing your pain e.g. sharp, burning like, crushing, dull. This can help us understand the cause of the pain you are feeling.
- Being able to point to where the pain is or let us know if it travels anywhere else in the body can also be very helpful.
- When did the pain start? Did the pain come on suddenly or has it slowly been becoming more severe over days to weeks.
- Does the pain become better suddenly or more gradually?
- How does the pain impact your life? e.g. Does it stop you from getting a good night’s sleep or decrease your appetite?
- Have you experienced pain like this previously? If so, did anything help relieve it?
One of the things health care professionals are guilty of is asking our patients to rate their pain on a scale of zero to ten! We do this because pain is very subjective. My experience of severe pain may only be moderate pain felt by someone else. Being able to give your pain a number from 0-10 helps us understand what the intensity of pain is for YOU.
It helps to keep track of your pain. Using the My Cancer Pal Pain Tracker is a hassle free and simple way to do this. It makes remembering your pain levels over the last 24 hours or week much easier. Being able to show your health professional how your pain levels have been helps guide them to increase or decrease any pain medications.
Image: Pain Scale www.disable-world.com
Generally speaking, we say ten is the worst pain you have ever felt and zero is nothing. If your pain score becomes higher than a three out of ten, then this is the best time to intervene. Whether that be with medication, relaxation, deep breathing or heat/cold packs. If your pain score continues to rise and no interventions have been put in place, than you run the risk of:
A) Needing more pain relief medications to help bring your pain score back down lower.
B) Taking longer to get your pain under control.
Holding out and being stoic is not that answer. If you have pain and it becomes more intense and severe, then the time to act is NOW!
It does not necessarily mean you are becoming worse or that your cancer is progressing. It may be as simple as; you are in pain and need assistance to help control it.