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You Are Not Alone A Practical Guide for Maintaining Your Quality of Life While Living with Cancer You're Not Alone

Pain - II. Symptoms and Strategies

Symptoms and Strategies
Sleep Disorders

Cognitive Functioning


Will I be in pain? (Not all patients experience pain!)
In a movement that has gained increasing momentum in the last twenty-five years, the medical community is giving pain the special attention it deserves. Today, many hospitals have special pain centers and pain-management programs and the American Pain Society urges that pain be considered a fifth vital sign, along with blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and breathing rate.

Pain can seriously compromise a patient's quality of life by interrupting normal sleep patterns, making daily activities difficult, affecting cognitive functioning, and eroding a patient's energy. When pain occurs, it must be continually assessed and evaluated by the medical team or a pain management specialist, if available. During this ongoing process, these professionals determine whether the source of the pain is somatic (throughout the body), visceral (related to organs), or neuropathic (related to the nervous system). They then define the pain according to its intensity, quality, and frequency and recommend the appropriate means of intervention. Effective pain management can include biofeedback and other stress reduction techniques, oral medications, injections (including nerve blocks), patches, or pumps. With modern technology, it is now possible to have effective pain control.

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