Myths about Pain

Pain management is one of the most important aspects of your care. Many times, pain is undertreated because patients believe myths about pain that are not true. 

Myth #1

Morphine is only given to patients who will die soon.

Some Hospice patients take Morphine for long periods of time (weeks to months to years) for pain control. Some patients may never need Morphine at all.  Pain is not necessarily an indication of disease progression.

Myth #2

Morphine causes patients to stop breathing.

Morphine is the drug of choice to help Hospice patients who are having difficulty breathing. Initially it is prescribed in small doses to treat pain.  Patients quickly develop a tolerance to side effects such as slowed breathing. Pain medication doses can gradually be increased to treat ongoing pain without the fear of interference with breathing. 

Myth #3

Patients who take pain medication will become addicted.

Clinical research shows that patients who take medication to treat pain have a very rare chance of becoming addicted to the medication. When pain is well controlled, patients do not seek to take more pain medication.  In fact, some patients may even decrease the use of pain medication as the pain decreases in severity. Our goal in Hospice care is to keep patients comfortable. Addiction is not an issue. Even patients with a history of addiction have a right to have their pain appropriately assessed and treated.

Myth #4

Patients should wait until the pain becomes severe before taking pain medication.

Just the opposite is true! For patients who may experience pain throughout the day or night, pain medication should be scheduled around the clock. Additionally, “as needed” doses should be available for periods of increased pain such as pain that may occur during increased activity. This provides a steady level of medication in the body to prevent episodes of pain that may get out of control. In Hospice care, we strive to prevent pain and suffering. By scheduling pain medication, we can do just that.

Myth #5

Pain medication causes too many side effects.

While it is true that patients may experience side effects from pain medications such as nausea, sleepiness, or constipation, this does not mean that pain medication should not be used. There are ways to treat and even prevent these side effects while maintaining good pain control at the same time.

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