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What Does Pain Management Look Like In Hospice?

How to better prioritize the comfort of those in hospice.

When patients choose hospice as a result of their life-limiting illness, the goal is to improve their quality of life, and often times this achieved through pain management.

There are a variety of modalities that can support pain relief for patients — from psychological and spiritual support to medication and alternative medicine practices.

Bonita Springs Healthcare Services provides empathetic and professional care to those in hospice as they navigate the end stage of life. Learn more about what pain management looks like in today’s post.

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When Pain Management Is Needed

Because each patient is in a different stage when they enter hospice, some patients are able to verbally communicate their level of pain, while others are not.

When patients cannot tell you they’re in pain, the hospice team can use a pain rating scale that they can point to.

What are other signs and symptoms that indicate a patient may need pain management?

  • Increased breathing
  • Tightly closed eyes
  • Fast blinking
  • Crying
  • Pacing
  • Rocking
  • Anger & aggression
  • Moaning
  • Body rigidity

Prioritizing Patient Communication

Communication is arguably the most integral part of pain management for patients. It is key that a patient, whether verbally or non-verbally, communicate their pain levels. This way the hospice team can evaluate what is working and how to make adjustments to what is not.

It’s a typical practice for the medical staff to constantly reevaluate a patient’s pain and treat them accordingly. At the end of the day, the primary goal is the comfort and quality of life for hospice patients.

The Link Between Physical & Emotional Pain

Physical and emotional pain are largely linked, which is why hospice addresses both. To improve emotional pain, and thus physical pain, the hospice team provides emotional and spiritual support through social workers, counselors, and chaplains.

A cycle is often observed when physical and emotional pain is involved. For example, when a patient has anxiety, it can not only manifest in their physical pain, but then the pain can increase the feelings of anxiety — treating both types of pain is essential.

Pain Management In Hospice

A patient’s comfort is always prioritized in hospice, so medication is often used to manage their symptoms. While a variety of pain medication is available, opioids are commonly used because they attach themselves to opioid receptors to better block the sensation of pain.

Commonly used opioids include oxycodone, morphine, and hydromorphone. When opioids are implemented into a patient’s hospice care protocol, this is regularly assessed by the medical professional team of doctors and nurses to ensure the dosage and duration are correctly managed and are still appropriate for the patient.

NSAIDs are also a commonly used medication in pain management for patients, in addition to Acetaminophen, which is also the most used pain reliever for mild to moderate pain.

Understanding The Role Of Opioids

Opioids and opioid addiction are hot topics and it’s very normal for families to have reservations about opioid use in hospice, but in the end, opioid use in hospice is often one of the best options to control pain and keep people comfortable.

It’s also important to remember that hospice does not provide curative care, and because most patients are in the end stage of life, an opioid addiction does not really play a deciding factor in whether it’s used or not — pain relief is the primary concern.

Experience Patient-Centered Hospice Care At Bonita Springs Healthcare Services

From receiving hospice care at home to our Hollister state-of-the-art hospice facility, you’ll always get the leading patient-focused care.

To learn more about our hospice care services, connect with Bonita Springs Healthcare Services today!