Advance Medical Directives
Advance directives are used to give other people, including health care
providers, information about your wishes for medical care. Advance directives
are important in case there is ever a time when you are not physically
or mentally able to speak for yourself and make your wishes known. The
most common types of advance directives are the living will and the durable
power of attorney for health care.
When pain is caused by something that does not normally cause pain (such
as clothing touching the skin).
Medications used to prevent or treat pain.
Medications used to treat depression, and also used to treat chronic pain.
Antidepressants can also be helpful for pain-related symptoms, like sleep
problems and muscle spasms.
Medications used to treat anxiety, and also used to treat chronic pain.
Anxiolytics reduce pain-related anxiety, help relax muscles and can help
a person cope with pain.
The act of grieving someone's death.
Any person who provides care for the physical and emotional needs of a
family member or friend.
Causalgia (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome II)
Pain, usually burning, that is associated with autonomic changes -- change
in color of the skin, change in temperature, change in sweating, swelling.
Causalgia occurs after a nerve injury.
Central Nervous System
The brain and the spinal cord.
Carefully planned and monitored experiments to test a new drug or treatment.
Approaches to medical treatment that are outside of mainstream medical
training. Complementary medicine treatments used for pain include: acupuncture,
low-level laser therapy, meditation, aroma therapy, Chinese medicine,
dance therapy, music therapy, massage, herbalism, therapeutic touch, yoga,
osteopathy, chiropractic treatments, naturopathy, and homeopathy.
Computed Tomography (CT/CAT) Scanning
A painless technique used to produce a picture of a cross-section, or
"slice," of a part of the body. X-rays are used to produce this
Difficulty having a bowel movement.
A disturbance of the brain function that causes confusion and changes
in alertness, attention, thinking and reasoning, memory, emotions, sleeping
patterns and coordination. These symptoms may start suddenly, are due
to some type of medical problem, and they may get worse or better multiple
Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders
Instructions written by a doctor telling other healthcare providers not
to try to restart a patient's heart, using cardiopulmonary resuscitation
(CPR) or other related treatments, if his/her heart stops beating. Usually,
DNR orders are written after a discussion between a doctor and the patient
and/or family members. DNR orders are written for people who are very
unlikely to have a successful result from CPR -- those who are terminally
ill or those who are elderly and frail.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOAHC)
A legal document that specifies one or more individuals (called a health
care proxy) you would like to make medical decisions for you if you are
unable to do so yourself.
Difficulty in breathing.
Doctors and caregivers provide care to patients approaching the end of
life that is focused on comfort, respect for decisions, support for the
family, and treatments to help psychological and spiritual concerns.
A federal program (such as Social Security or unemployment benefits) that
guarantees a certain level of benefits to those who meet requirements
set by law.
EPEC (Education for Physicians on End-of-Life
A project designed to educate physicians across the United States about
providing good end-of-life care for patients. EPEC includes a curriculum
used to train doctors in clinical knowledge and skills they need to care
for dying patients.
A system of moral principles and rules that are used as standards for
professional conduct. Many hospitals and other health care facilities
have ethics committees that can help doctors, other healthcare providers,
patients and family members in making difficult decisions regarding medical
A feeling of becoming tired easily, being unable to complete usual activity,
feeling weak, and difficulty concentrating.
A pain disorder in which a person feels widespread pain and stiffness
in the muscles, fatigue, and other symptoms.
A special way of caring for people with terminal illnesses and their families
by meeting the patients physical, emotional, social, and spiritual
needs, as well as the needs of the family. The goals of hospice are to
keep the patient as comfortable as possible by relieving pain and other
symptoms; to prepare for a death that follows the wishes and needs of
the patient; and to reassure both the patient and family members by helping
them to understand and manage what is happening.
Hospice Home Care
Most hospice patients receive care while living in their homes. Home hospice
patients have family members or friends who provide most of their care,
with help and support from the trained hospice team. The hospice team
visits at the house to provide medical and nursing care, emotional support,
counseling, information, instruction and practical help. A home care aide
may also be available to help with daily care, if needed.
Extreme sensitivity to pain.
An exaggerated response to something that causes pain, with continued
pain after the cause of the pain is no longer present.
The process of making decisions about medical care that are based on open,
honest communication between the health care provider and the patient
and/or the patient's family members.
A legal document which outlines the kinds of medical care a patient wants
and doesn't want. The living will is used only if the patient becomes
unable to make decisions for him/herself.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A painless technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves (without
radiation) to create clear cross-sectional pictures of the body.
Muscle pain and tenderness.
Injections of anesthetic (or numbing) substances into nerves in order
to reduce pain.
Intravenous (IV) fluid and nutritional supplements given to patients who
are unable to eat or drink by mouth, or those who are dehydrated or malnourished.
A type of medication related to opium. Opioids are strong analgesics.
Opioids include morphine, codeine, and a large number of synthetic (man-made)
drugs like methadone and fentanyl.
An unpleasant feeling that may or may not be related to an injury, illness,
or other bodily trauma. Pain is complex and differs from person to person.
Pain that has a known cause and occurs for a limited time. Acute pain
usually responds to treatment with analgesic medications and treatment
of the cause of the pain.
Pain that occurs for more than one month after healing of an injury, that
occurs repeatedly over months, or is due to a lesion that is not expected
Pain Due to Nerve Injury
Pain caused by an injury or other problem in the nervous system.
The total care of patients with progressive, incurable illness. In palliative
care, the focus of care is on quality of life. Control of pain and other
physical symptoms, and psychological, social and spiritual problems is
considered most important.
Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
Pain medication given through an IV or epidural catheter. Patients control
the dose of medication they take, depending on how much is needed to control
the pain. PCA is usually used for patients recovering from intra-abdominal,
major orthopedic, or thoracic surgery, and for chronic pain states, such
as those due to cancer.
Peripheral Nervous System
The nerves throughout the body that send messages to the central nervous
Pain caused by an injury or other problem with the peripheral nervous
Pain that develops after an amputation. To the patient, the pain feels
like it is coming from the missing body part.
The treatment of diseases and symptoms with medications.
Physician Assisted Suicide
Actions by a doctor that help a patient commit suicide. Though the doctor
may provide medication, a prescription, or take other steps, the patient
takes his/her own life (for instance, by swallowing the pills that are
expected to bring about death).
Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN)
Painful condition following shingles (herpes zoster).
Techniques used to help patients cope with over their pain and deal with
emotional factors that can increase pain. Such strategies include biofeedback,
imagery, hypnosis, relaxation training, stress management, cognitive-behavioral
therapy, and family counseling.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (Complex Regional
Pain Syndrome I)
Pain, usually burning, that is associated with "autonomic changes"
-- change in color of the skin, change in temperature, change in sweating,
swelling. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is caused by injury to bone, joint,
or soft tissues.
Treatment for an injury, illness, or pain with the goal of restoring function.
A disorder of the trigeminal nerve that causes brief attacks of severe
pain in the lips, cheeks, gums, or chin on one side of the face.
A syndrome that might occur when a medication that has been used regularly
to treat pain is no longer used, or when the dose is decreased. Showing
symptoms of withdrawal does not mean that a patient is addicted to his/her