Dealing with pain when you have a life-limiting illness

In palliative care pain is common but most can be treated with the help of health professionals. Pain is one of the symptoms that may worry you the most. You may not know how pain can be treated. You may think that pain is inevitable. Pain does not have to be a part of life with a terminal illness.

It helps to keep a record of any pain(s) that you or the person you are caring for have experienced. This can help you when you explain to your doctor or other health professional. Pain diaries or records can be used to monitor pain and what is being taken for pain.

Morphine is a medicine that is often used to help control pain. You may not be familiar with its role in managing pain. There are also medications other than morphine. You may be worried about using these types of medications. There are resources that can help to explain the benefits and side effects of morphine and other strong painkillers.

Talk with your palliative care team

It is important that you talk to health professionals about pain. They need to know what is happening with your pain:

  • whether it is getting better
  • whether it is getting worse or
  • whether it has moved or changed.

Let them know if you notice any side effects. Treating pain when it first occurs improves the chances that your pain can be controlled. Not treating pain as it occurs (e.g. 'saving painkillers until it is really bad') may make it more difficult to control.

Page created 16 November 2021