Home Health & Hospice

Insider's scoop | Pain management for cancer patients

Homecare Insider, December 21, 2015

Editor’s note: This week’s Insider's Scoop is adapted from HCPro’s new Home Health Aide On-the-Go In-service Series, Volume 15. These in-services offer home health aides the convenience and flexibility to study when time permits and to learn at their own pace while fulfilling CMS’ requirement of 12 hours of annual in-service training. Lessons include clinical topics, such as avoiding UTIs and colostomy care, and staff training topics, such as ethics and a basic understanding of Medicare and OASIS-C1. For more information or to order, call customer service at 800-650-6787 or click here.

Caring for the Cancer Patient: Pain
Chemotherapy drugs can damage nerves, which causes burning, numbness, tingling, or shooting pain, most often in the fingers or toes. Some drugs can also cause mouth sores, headaches, muscle pains, and stomach pains. It’s important to recognize this pain and make note of where and how often it occurs, how long it lasts, and how severe it is. Often, pain is rated on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being the most severe pain ever felt, or from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most severe pain ever felt. There are numerous medications and methods to control pain. Patients should be comfortable talking about their pain and working with their doctors to find the most effective method to control it.

A combination of medicines that can be taken by mouth can control severe pain. These combinations usually include opiates or opiate-like medications, such as morphine or oxycodone. These drugs have significant side effects and need to be carefully stored and taken only as directed by the physician.