Medical Aspects of Pain Control

Medical Aspects of Pain Control [1]

What is Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.

The sensation of pain is a useful warning signal that actual or potential damage is occurring or will occur to the body’s tissues. The frequency and intensity of pain varies depending on which particular disease the patient has, how advanced the disease is and what other health problems they are experiencing.

The pain experience is unique to an individual.

It can be magnified by psychosocial stressors, and modified through psychological and emotional support. It is what the person describes and not what others think it ought to be.

In the mid-1960s, Cicely Saunders recognized that there was much more to pain than the medical/physical aspects. She developed the concept of ‘total pain’ – encompassing physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual aspects.

Signs of pain

  • Facial signs: furrowed brow, grimace, eyes closed tight, clenched teeth, taut lips.
  • Body posture signs: very still, stiff, can only get comfortable in one position.
  • Tense, unhappy when they move, or you move them.
  • Appear irritable and withdrawn rather than content.
  • No appetite or excessive appetite.

Helping relieve pain

Find out what helps or makes it worse – movement, massage, support on a pillow, distraction (music, company, television/radio). Find their most comfortable position.

Medicines given to relieve pain increase in strength in the order:

  1. Paracetamol (Non-Opioid)
  2. Panadeine (Mild opioid)
  3. Morphine (Strong Opioid)

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[1] Contents of this page prepared by Len Warren of Pure Land of the Indestructable Buddha, Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington 6151 Western Australia, November 2018. Selected extracts from talks given by Teresa Prior (2006) and Suzie Vojkovic (2013).