Research shows that good control of pain and other symptoms can help you live longer. If you have a serious illness, coping with pain can be a big part of your daily struggle. You are not alone. Many patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or kidney failure have pain that isn’t properly treated. Palliative care is used to manage a disease or medical condition that is serious or life threatening by easing pain and other associated physical, emotional, or psychosocial symptoms. Pain can slow your recovery, and it can make you depressed.
Palliative care also eases other distressing symptoms, like depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and shortness of breath. Your pain might be dull or sharp. You might have it all the time or only sometimes. Your palliative care team will talk to you about your pain so they can choose the right medicine and the right dose to make you feel better. It may help to keep track of your pain by writing down how strong it is, where it is on your body, what makes it worse and what makes it better. Palliative care provides advanced care planning and a support system to help you live a life that is as active, fulfilling, and as pain-free as possible.
Palliative care may last for weeks, months, or years, and the relief of moderate to severe pain during that time can greatly improve quality of life. The biggest problem with palliative care is that many people are referred for care too late. By starting this type of care early, and by using the right type of pain management, nearly all pain problems can be relieved or reduced.