Pain is a long-lasting problem for people who have sickle cell disease. Bouts of severe pain can last for hours to days and
are difficult to treat. Pain can be exhausting for caregivers as well as for the
person in pain. A pain management plan can help a person cope with chronic pain and with pain caused by a sickle cell crisis.
Your doctor or a
pain treatment specialist can help you make a pain
management plan. This plan includes instructions on how to treat mild pain at home. And it tells you when you need to go to the hospital if your pain gets worse.
Your management plan:
Treatment of pain at home is a way of life for most people with sickle
cell disease. Sickle cell pain varies from person to person, from mild to
severe, and from occasional to constant. Some people experience numerous
sickle cell crises, or painful events, a few times a year. Others experience none.
cases, you can treat mild to severe sickle cell pain at home with a combination
of pain medicines, plenty of fluids, and comfort measures such as heating
pads. But painful events can become severe and last
for days to weeks. Such extreme pain requires aggressive pain medicine that
must be monitored in the hospital. If pain is increasing and isn't relieved by
treatment at home, call your doctor and seek emergency medical care.
Mild to moderate body pain and some sickle cell crises can be prevented by:
Pain can be treated at home with:
For more information, see the topic
If you go to the hospital, you will be treated with a strong pain medicine. This might be an opioid medicine, such as morphine.
Other Works Consulted
Steinberg MH (2012). Sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. In L Goldman, A Shafer, eds., Goldman's Cecil Medicine, 24th ed., pp. 1066–1075. Philadelphia: Saunders.
October 1, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Martin Steinberg, MD - Hematology
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