Tips on Pain and Frontotemporal Dementia

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Lower-Back-Pain-199x300.jpgFrontotemporal dementia presents many challenges, one of which can be accurately determining whether a patient is in pain and if so, what level of that pain he or she is experiencing.  Often, caregivers assume that frontotemporal dementia is responsible for patient pain, and this may be the case; however, it is also often true that the pain results from an unrelated disorder, and some dementia suffers may struggle to make the distinction clear.  In other instances, the presence of pain may be difficult to determine without taking extra steps.

For example, a person with frontotemporal dementia may have pain in his foot. In a typical individual, this might result in the person becoming more sedentary; however, some individuals with a frontotemporal disorder engage in compulsive behaviors and may continue to walk even if they are in pain.

To make matters even more complicated, a person with a frontotemporal degeneration may not have the ability to communicate, either verbally or through body language, the fact that he is experiencing pain.


Home caregivers can help to ascertain whether there may be pain by heeding the following tips:

During daily personal care routines, check for signs of possible pain.  Is the range of motion typical?  Is there any noticeable stiffness?  Are there blisters or sores?  Is the patient exhibiting a resistance to move in a certain way, which might indicate a pain?

Attempt to communicate about the possible pain. Depending upon the degree to which the disorder affects the person, this may be challenging. Avoid yes or no questions such as, "Does it hurt?" and opt instead for phrases such as "Show me where you have a hurt."

Observe eating behaviors. A decrease in appetite may mean that the person is experiencing a dental pain that makes chewing difficult.

Don't misdiagnose genital rubbing. While people with frontotemporal dementia may engage in behaviors that involve genital manipulation, this can also be an indication that a rash or other skin condition may have developed.

Contact the doctor if pain is suspected. Let the physician know that your loved one seems to be in pain and what the possible cause of the pain may be.

When a cause of pain has been identified that can be easily treated, take steps to do so. For example, if a patient has a sore arm that makes movement overhead difficult, putting on a shirt that buttons up the front rather than one that must slip overhead may be preferable.

Caregivers may also want to talk with doctors about any ongoing pain management routines that should be implemented.  Tending to a person with a frontotemporal disorder can often require special care.


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