Managing Pain in Hospice Care

Pain management is an essential aspect of a hospice patient’s care. To effectively manage our patients’ pain, I involve the entire hospice care team—including the patient and his or her family.

Pain can come in many forms, such as nerve pain, metastatic bone pain, deep visceral pain or even emotional pain, complicated all the more when it’s a mixture of several types of pain.

John W. Middleton, M.D.

Our first step in creating a care plan is to set clear goals and emphasize realistic expectations. First, we try to define the nature and cause of the patient’s pain. By doing so, we can more readily target its source by using a variety of treatment options.

While medication is our first line of treatment, controlling pain isn’t as easy as throwing medication at the problem. Most of the time, hospice patients have multiple conditions that must be taken into consideration before selecting the proper medication to ease their pain.

In addition to medication management, our care team offers other ways of managing pain. Pet therapy, meditation, hot and cold therapy, massage and acupuncture can often provide relief without any side effects.

By identifying a patient’s individual needs and utilizing a wide range of approaches, we can make the patient and their family comfortable.

A family’s final moments with their loved one are invaluable; by keeping their loved ones at peace, they can spend this time creating positive memories uninterrupted by symptoms.

John W. Middleton, M.D., is the medical director at Carroll Hospice

From the spring 2020 issue of DASH, Carroll Hospice’s community newsletter

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