This guest blog was written by Jennifer Morales, an acute care nurse in Queens. She has been with VNSNY for 8 years and specializes in wound and geriatric care. She’s currently pursuing her masters degree in administration at Adelphi University.
Dealing with chronic pain is not an easy task. Chronic pain is defined as pain that last longer than six months. It affects over 100 million Americans andcan take both a physical and emotional toll on patients, so many patients also suffer from depression. Common causes of chronic pain are joint pain, pain from injury, backaches, headaches, generalized body aches and nerve pain.
Mrs. Jones (I’ve changed her name for confidentiality) is 86 years old and has suffered from chronic pain for many years. She did not know what was causing her generalized body pain and feelings of stiffness first thing in the morning when she woke up. It was getting harder for her to manage her activities of daily living independently. Mrs. Jones’ test results reported osteoarthritis in multiple locations in her body. Due to her age and her unsteady gait, her doctor was hesitant to place her on narcotics for her pain, and even though drugs are cheaper than multidisciplinary approaches to chronic pain, he decided to try other options. We started Mrs. Jones on a program of physical therapy and occupational therapy to increase her range of motion, reduce pain, and regain function. Physical therapists also use methods such as ultrasound (which uses high frequency waves to produce heat), hot packs, and ice to help treat pain.
Mrs. Jones has reported feeling much better since starting her therapy. She moves more and she reports a decrease in that stiff feeling she had in the mornings. She plans to joina relaxation group to learn techniques to help decrease her pain even more.
Other effective ways to manage chronic pain are:
- Deep breathing
- Guided imagery
- Eating healthy
- Finding a distraction, a hobby to keep your mind away from the pain
- Decreasing alcohol consumption