Experts at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital suggest that tumours press on nerves, bones and organs; radiation can damage the skin and mucus membranes; and chemotherapy agents can cause harsh side effects. Moreover, acute pain increases a patient's heart and respiratory rates, metabolism, blood pressure and stress hormones. Children who are hurting need more oxygen.
"Chronic pain influences the immune system, so patients don't heal as well. Research also shows that patients don't breathe as well when in pain, causing a higher risk of pulmonary complications after surgery," said Dr Doralina Anghelescu, Anesthesiology Division at St. Jude. "Patients in pain don't eat as well or sleep as well either. Pain management benefits the whole body," Anghelescu added.
What this study suggests is that, especially in the case of children, pain management and emotional support be an essential part of the treatment, and even the family members of the patient should be part of understanding pain management.
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