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Pain Management & Kidney Disease

Pain affects more than 100 million people in the United States, including more than 60% of hemodialysis patients who say they feel moderate or severe chronic pain.

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right. There are many types of pain and figuring out what is causing your pain can be challenging. Common causes of pain for people with kidney disease include gout, metabolic bone disease, nerve damage, inflammation from dialysis treatments and repeatedly sticking needles into your access arm for dialysis.

Treating pain can be tricky. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can worsen existing kidney damage and should not be taken by people with kidney disease. However, many other medicines can safely be used to ease pain. Some require a prescription but others, like acetaminophen, are safe options that you can buy over the counter.

What other ways can you manage pain?

  • Use a topical analgesic (cream) to numb the skin before needle sticking

  • Use a neck pillow when sitting during dialysis

  • Keep a good posture

  • Sleep on a good mattress

  • Stretch and exercise daily

  • Try acupuncture, massage therapy or electrotherapy

You may have to try different pain management methods until you find the one(s) that work best for you. Don’t give up! Some of the benefits of successfully managing your pain include:

  • Better mental health

  • Better sleep

  • Longer life expectancy

  • Ability to do physical activities you enjoy

  • Overall better quality of life

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