Pain, while unpleasant, is an important survival tool. It lets us know when to yank our hand back from a hot pan before we’re burned; it gives us advanced warning when something in our bodies is wrong. However, in some cases, pain goes from being a useful tool to a debilitating hardship.
Pain poses serious challenges to older adults. Some 65 percent of older adults say they experience pain and 30 percent experience chronic pain. The CDC estimates that 15 percent of American seniors use prescription pain relievers. However, pain medications — especially ones purchased over the counter — are a common factor in adverse drug reactions. These reactions take place when one medication negatively interacts with another medication in a person’s body. The symptoms can be varied, but severe. Some might even require a trip to the hospital.
Of the many ways to manage pain, The key to pain management is finding the right combination of treatments that works best for you. For many people, medicine, physical therapy, and help from a caregiver may present the best solution.
Different Pains Require Different Treatments
To discover the best path towards pain management, you must first identify what kind of pain you’re experiencing. There are four typical categories of pain. Narrowing down your symptoms can clarify what type of treatment will be most useful.
- Neuropathic Pain: Caused by damage or irritation to nerves, this type of pain includes neuropathy and radicular pain, which radiates from the spine into the legs.
- Inflammatory Pain: This type of pain is the result of inflammation caused by the body’s immune response.
- Nociceptive Pain: The root of arthritis and most post-surgical pain, nociceptive pain is often the result of a tissue injury.
- Functional Pain: Though this pain does not have a definite origin, it can still cause serious distress. Fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome are both examples.
Aside from the different types of pain, these symptoms can be broken down further into acute or chronic pain. Acute pain lasts for short periods, while chronic pain lasts for three months or more. Chronic pain can be the result of nerve damage, and treating the underlying injury won’t always resolve the pain. In other cases chronic pain is the result of longstanding medical conditions such as arthritis or cancer. It can often be difficult to diagnose and may lead to other problems such as anxiety and depression.
Seniors May Struggle to Get Proper Pain Management Treatment
Seniors often do not receive enough treatment for their pain. Sometimes, this can be a result of patients underreporting their symptoms. Many seniors think that pain is an unavoidable part of getting older. However, letting the pain go untreated can cause it to get worse or even trigger other health concerns. If you are experiencing pain, it’s important to be open with your doctor about what you’re feeling to ensure you get the best treatment. Putting on a brave face is all well and good, until it stands between you and a life free from pain. If ignored for long enough, acute pain can even become chronic pain through a process called sensitization. By coming forward with your symptoms as soon as possible, you lower the risk of facing chronic pain in the future.
Having a loved one or caregiver on the lookout for the signs of pain can provide an extra safeguard against symptoms going untreated. An in-home caregiver can keep an eye out for signs of unusual pain, and offer a sympathetic ear to seniors voicing their concerns.
However, some factors contributing to the under-treatment of seniors’ pain are unavoidable. Physical changes as we age, for instance, may affect how medicines perform in our bodies. This means it’s even more important to work on a flexible and multi-disciplined regimen for pain management. Through medication and therapy, seniors can find the treatment that will work best for them.
Pain Management Tips
Medication is an important aspect of most pain management plans. Though adverse drug reactions are a risk, careful prescription and monitoring of symptoms can reduce the danger. Reducing pain can also help with other health concerns. For instance, between 30 and 50 percent of people with chronic pain also report having depression, which can create many more cascading health issues. Using medication to reduce pain can improve health outlooks and speed up healing.
When considering medication, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right type and the correct dose. Discussing your symptoms with your doctor and checking in before beginning a new medication is a great way to stay safe. Remember, even over-the-counter pain medicine can cause potential complications. If you’re taking many different prescriptions, it’s smart to check with your doctor first.
Non-pharmacological solutions are also an option. These are often effective in conjunction with medication rather than as an alternative. Therapy can provide tools to manage pain through coping skills. Depending on the type of injury, some forms of physical therapy might also provide relief. Taking care of mental health aside from the effects of pain is equally important. By laying a good foundation for mental well-being, it can be easier to cope with pain. Having someone to talk to, whether a family member or caregiver, is a good way to stay mentally healthy.
There are lots of ways in which a home caregiver can help you manage your symptoms and treatments. Assisting with physically strenuous tasks can reduce the chance of having a flare-up. If you’re taking multiple medications, a caregiver can also help you keep track of medications and maintain a regular schedule. With a caregiver on your side, you can be sure you’re always getting the right amount of medicine, right when you need it.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.