It seems that palliative care is exactly what chronic pain patients need – especially those of us that are disabled by it.
Palliative care is focused on Quality of Life: “Palliative care focuses on improving a patient’s quality of life by managing pain and other distressing symptoms of a serious illness.”
Palliative care is IN ADDITION to medical treatments: “Palliative care should be provided along with other medical treatments.”
Palliative care is for SYMPTOMS: “Palliative care is the relieving or soothing of symptoms of a disease or disorder while maintaining the highest possible quality of life for patients.”
Palliative care is NOT hospice: “There is a specific type of palliative care—called hospice—for people for whom a cure is no longer possible and who likely have 6 months or less to live.”
Physicians who specialize in hospice and palliative medicine work with other doctors and healthcare professionals, listen to patients, and align their treatments with what’s important to them, and help families navigate the complex healthcare systems.
Many people mistakenly believe you receive palliative care only when you can’t be cured. Actually, palliative medicine can be provided by one doctor while other doctors work with you to try to cure your illness.
Palliative care is for people of any age and at any stage in an illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic, or life-threatening. If you or a loved one are suffering from symptoms of a disease or disorder, be sure to ask your current physician for a referral for a palliative care consult.
Palliative doctors are specially trained in palliative medicine. They may provide palliative medicine through a hospital, hospice program, or both, and you can receive palliative care at a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, or your home
Your [palliative care] team will
- prescribe treatments to control pain and other uncomfortable symptoms
- assist with difficult medical decisions, helping you weigh the pros and cons of various treatments
- coordinate care with your other doctors and help you navigate the often confusing healthcare system
- guide you in making a plan for living well, based on your needs, concerns, and goals for care
- provide you and your loved ones emotional and spiritual support and guidance.
This seems like a more compassionate and efficient (even financially!) way to treat chronic pain of all kinds.
Instead of running around to various specialists trying to find a nonexistent cure and “trying out” more dangerous drugs and procedures, we could be receiving appropriate and personalized treatment for our pain (including opioids as needed), leaving us free to focus on restoring our productivity and quality of life.
Perhaps this is something chronic pain patients could suggest for long-term treatment of a malady that can’t be cured.