Physical pain continued...
In some cases, medicines can be given so you can get more medicine when you need it. This is called patient-controlled anesthesia, or PCA.
Many people who have pain caused by a life-limiting illness are concerned
about becoming addicted to pain medicines. Addiction usually is not an issue in
people with a terminal illness. If your pain or illness improves, your doctor will slowly lower the amount you are getting until your body no longer needs the medicine.
It is possible to use pain medicines to effectively manage your pain and
keep it at a level that you find tolerable. But it may not be possible to
completely relieve your pain without making you sleepy. You might choose to
have a certain amount of pain in order to be fully awake and alert. On the
other hand, wakefulness may not be important to you and you may not be bothered
by the sleepiness that accompanies some pain medicines.
The key to
effective pain management is to take your pain medicine on a routine schedule,
not "as needed." But even with a routine schedule of pain medicine, there may
be times when you have pain that is worse than normal. This is called
"breakthrough pain." Talk with your doctor about medicines you should have on
hand to be prepared for breakthrough pain. And always talk to your doctor
before going off your pain medicine. Suddenly stopping pain medicine may cause
serious side effects and severe pain.
Talk to your doctor about
methods of pain control without medicine. Complementary and alternative
medicine therapies may provide pain relief and relaxation for some people. You
may be able to complement conventional medical treatment with one of these
Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. Complementary therapies are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment. But they may help ease symptoms and pain and improve your quality of life.
For more information about pain management, see the topic