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Family and Friends

Taking Care of a Loved One with Nerve Pain

Taking care of a loved one with nerve pain is very difficult. To see a person suffering in constant pain is heartbreaking.

But there is a lot that you can do to help. The most important thing you can do is be there to give comfort when the pain is particularly severe. It is also important to provide support and encouragement to your loved one in finding the best treatment.

If you are caring for someone with nerve pain, it is important to encourage him or her to talk openly about the pain and how he or she feels. This is especially important if the person is unwilling to open up to a doctor.

A number of problems can occur that can reduce a person’s quality of life if nerve pain is not appropriately treated. These include depression, sleeplessness, feelings of fear and anxiety, limited social interaction, and inability to perform normal daily activities or work. If you are caring for someone with nerve pain, encourage him/her to make an appointment to see the doctor. Relief of nerve pain starts with reaching out and asking for help.1-3

Talk to a doctor who understands the situation and take advice on the best way to deal with the nerve pain and the correct treatments to follow.

You can help by reminding your loved one to take his or her medication and to helping him or her follow the doctor's instructions. Help your loved one keep a pain diary – a daily record of occasions when there is pain. Help him/her take note of: 4

  • What the pain feels like (does it feel like one or more of the nerve pain descriptors)
  • How severe your pain is
  • How long the pain lasts
  • What eases the pain
  • What makes the pain worse

At the clinic, encourage your loved one to talk openly about his/her pain and how it feels and be prepared to help your loved one describe how his/her pain feels and which parts of the body it affects. Show the doctor your loved one’s pain diary. Clearly describing your loved one's symptoms to the doctor will help him make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the best treatment.

References:

  1. Breivik H et al. Survey of chronic pain in Europe: prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatment. Eur J Pain. 2006;10(4):287-333.
  2. Costigan et al. Neuropathic pain: a maladaptive response of the nervous system to damage. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2009;32:1-32.
  3. Gore M et al. Pain severity in diabetic peripheral neuropathy is associated with patient functioning, symptom levels of anxiety and depression, and sleep. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005;30(4):374-85.
  4. American Cancer Society. Daily pain diary. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-033203.pdf. Accessed 25 January, 2016.
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