Pain management
The process of providing medical care that alleviates or reduces pain. Pain management is an extremely important part of health care, as patients forced to remain in severe pain often become agitated and/or depressed and have poorer treatment outcomes. Mild to moderate pain can usually be treated with analgesic medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. For chronic or severe pain, opiates and other narcotics are often used, sometimes in concert with analgesics; with steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs when the pain is related to inflammation; or with anti-depressants, which can potentiate some pain medications without raising the actual dose of the drug, and which affect the brain’s perception of pain. Narcotics carry with them a potential for side effects and addiction, so patients and caregivers must weigh the level of pain against these dangers in the pain management process. The risk of addiction is not normally a concern in the care of terminal patients. For hospitalized patients with severe pain, devices for self- administration of narcotics are now frequently used. Other procedures can also be useful in pain management programs. For bedridden patients, simply changing position regularly or using pillows to support a more comfortable posture can be effective. Massage, acupuncture, acupressure, and biofeedback have also shown some validity for increased pain control in some patients.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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