People with pain matter! By participating in Pain Awareness Month (PAM) throughout September, you are standing up for the over 100 million Americans living with chronic pain.
What is pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” In other words, physical pain. Not all pain is physical. Emotional, spiritual, and social pain can also impact a patient’s quality of life.
However, is all pain physical?
It is estimated that 70 percent of suffering and pain at the end of life is emotional and spiritual. When left untreated, spiritual pain can be the main contributor to an unpeaceful and painful death. If you have lost purpose, relationships, or hope in your life, or if you have struggled with issues of forgiveness, then you have experienced spiritual pain.
One of the reasons Heart ‘n Home educates on the importance of admitting sooner to hospice, is not only for the physical symptoms, but for the other components of pain (emotional, social, spiritual) associated with death that can increase the overall suffering of a patient.
We encourage you to take time out for yourself and your loved ones. Try new stress release techniques, participate in activities within your community, and learn about new ways to alleviate pain in your life or the life of someone you care about. PAM is about having those conversations, providing support for pain warriors or caregivers who need it, and eliminating the negative stigma associated with those suffering from chronic pain.
“Of all the components of pain within the total pain module, spiritual pain is the least diagnosed cause of pain, and yet is a main contributor to the most painful deaths I have witnessed.” ~Dame Cicely Saunders
The other side of pain is often pushed aside, forgotten, or missed. We seem to forget about other components of the total pain, until we have exhausted all options in treating physical signs of pain. Only then do we start questioning, what is the root of pain? Is it physical? Is it being exacerbated or initiated by emotional, social, or spiritual conflicts in the patient’s life?
Uncontrolled pain can present itself in many different ways including, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, or depression. Treating physical pain is the first step in managing pain at end of life, but it’s not the only step. Once physical pain is controlled it will be easier to start treating other components of the total pain experience.
At Heart ‘n Home, we affirm life by providing emotional, physical, and spiritual support to patients and to those who love and care for them. It is the concern of each member of the team. Just like physical symptoms can affect the emotional and spiritual components; the spiritual and emotional components can also affect the management of physical pain.
Contact Heart ‘n Home today at 1-800-HOSPICE (800-467-7423) if you or someone you know needs assistance to get the help you need to stay at home and comfortable.