Pain Management & the Caregiver

Helping your loved one manage their pain

Watching a loved one in pain can cause stress and anxiety for the caregiver. You may begin to feel helpless and at times, angry. Is the loved one really in pain or just looking for more of your attention? It is normal to have these feelings on occasion, but you must always remember, that pain is what a person says it is and exists when they say it does. You can help alleviate the stress and anxiety for you and your loved one by following some simple guidelines.

  • You can help evaluate the pain by asking where the pain is located, how long it has been going on and to determine its intensity. Ask the pain scale question: On a scale of 0 to 10 where would you rate your pain? Don’t argue with or contradict your loved one’s response.
  • Listen for words other than “pain” such as, ache, tingling, stabbing, etc. and pay attention to body language, especially if they are unwilling to place a scale level on the pain. Tension in the face, arms and legs can be a sign of pain.
  • Use medications only as prescribed. Long acting pain medications take time to be effective. Never give a dose before it is recommended unless you have spoken with your physician. And once the pain is controlled do not skip the next dose or delay its recommended time. It is easier to prevent pain than to relieve pain.
  • Advocate for pain management. Let your physician know if the medications are not controlling the pain or if there are problems, such as side effects.
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake will help with the stress and anxiety of pain for both you and your loved one.
  • Even blood tests can be painful; the seemingly simple finger prick. Warming the fingers with a chemical warming packet or just running hands under warm water can help make needle sticks a little less unpleasant.

Pain tolerance is lowered by:

  • discomfort
  • anxiety
  • boredom
  • insomnia
  • fear
  • sadness
  • fatigue
  • anger
  • depression
  • loss of friends / social contacts and interactions
  • mental isolation (loss of work or sense of purpose)

Pain tolerance is raised by:

  • sleep / rest
  • relaxation
  • support / understanding
  • diversion
  • listening
  • elevation of mood
  • social inclusion
  • finding meaning and significance
  • free to express emotions

Non-drug measures to help anxiety and stress is as important as medications in relieving pain. By helping your loved one relieve their pain allows them to remain and feel independent for as long as possible.

Pain is complex and scary. It may be difficult to manage, at times, but following the prescribed treatment plan, awareness of how the plan is working and continued communication between patient, caregiver and physician can lead to preventing and relieving the pain of your loved one.


Specialty pharmacies handle medications that are given by infusion, injection or orally. These medications traditionally cost more than prescription medications, have special storage and handling requirements and need to be administered on a strict schedule. Patients prescribed higher dosages of opioids and opioid “rescue medications” will require a specialty pharmacy.

The pharmacy staff of specially trained pharmacists, nurses and care coordinators, assist in new prescriptions and refills, coordinate insurance authorizations and offer support and training to patients and caregivers.

These are some of the patient conditions served by specialty pharmacies:

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Psoriatic and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Transplant

Pharmacy websites also offer store locator portals.