No cancer patient wants to experience pain, which can take root from the disease itself or certain cancer treatments. Moreover, some people who achieved remission report feeling pain even after surviving their disease. The good news is, you don’t have to accept the torturous discomfort. Managing cancer pain is another way to take control of your treatment.
What is Cancer Pain?
The discomfort that arises from cancer and specific treatments can be controlled most of the time. In fact, many different medications and techniques exist to control cancer pain. If your malignant disorder is causing you pain and distress, inform your doctor immediately. The earlier you begin treatments, the more effective they may be.
What Causes Cancer Pain?
Cancer pain has several causes, with the most common being a tumor pressing on nerves or body organs, or when cancer cells begin invading bones or body organs. Some conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery may also cause pain varying from mild and sporadic, to severe and constant.
What Do Doctors Consider Before Ordering Treatment?
The type of pain you experience will influence your doctor’s choice of medications and methods. Some factors that may help determine which treatment is best for you include:
- The location of the pain
- The specific type of pain, such as sharp, aching, or tingling
- The severity of the pain
- Whether the pain comes and goes, or is constant
- What activities make the pain worse or better
- Current medications
- The impact of the pain, such as loss of appetite or reduced quality of sleep
What Conventional Medication Treats Cancer Pain?
For mild to moderate cancer pain, your doctor may recommend the following mainstream medications:
- Pain relievers: Acetaminophen and a group of pain relievers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen, can treat mild to moderate pain. Most of these are over-the-counter drugs and do not need a prescription, although some do. However, you should always check with your doctor before taking any medicine, especially if you are getting chemotherapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs can intervene with blood clotting, cause kidney and gastrointestinal problems, and may lead to an increased risk of heart problems.
For moderate to severe cancer pain, your doctor may prescribe these medications:
- Narcotic pain relievers: These opioid drugs include codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, oxycodone, and tramadol. Narcotic pain medications are not available over the counter and will require a prescription from a doctor.
For tingling and burning sensations, your physician may suggest:
- Antidepressants: Some doctors prescribe certain antidepressants to relieve pain even if the patient is not suffering from depression. Amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and duloxetine are examples of antidepressants sometimes used to address pain.
- Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications): Anticonvulsants like gabapentin and carbamazepine not only treat seizures, but they also play a role in controlling burning and tingling pain, which are painful symptoms of nerve damage.
- Other drugs: Doctors sometimes prescribe corticosteroids like prednisone to reduce swelling, which often causes pain.
Most people, however, have questions and concerns about taking opioid medicines or any other drug in general. Such queries, including “Will I become dependant on the drugs?” or “Will opioids shorten my life?” are best discussed with a specialist in chronic pain management.
What are the Alternatives to Drugs?
Here at New Hope Unlimited, we have spent decades studying the science behind holistic protocols, which are harmless alternatives to mainstream medicine. Therefore, if you have cancer, consider research-based relaxation techniques for cancer pain management.
Entering a state of deep physical and mental relaxation has a multitude of benefits. It reduces anxiety, as well as helps to better cope with pain.
To be specific, some techniques that may combat cancer pain include:
- Breathing and relaxation. Correct breathing can soothe the nervous system, subdue anxiety, and manage stress.
- Hypnotherapy. – This relaxation method involves the use of imagery to prompt a relaxed state of mind. Hypnotherapy may also relieve some of the side effects of radiation therapy, such as nausea.
- Massage. Not only is the skin the largest organ of the human body, but it is also filled with nerve endings. Getting a massage works by soothing soft tissue and achieving a state of relaxation.
- Meditation. Meditating deliberately clears the mind to bring about feelings of calmness and heightened awareness. Practicing meditation on a regular basis offers a number of long-term health benefits, including reduced stress and normalized blood pressure.
- Yoga. Still a popular practice in the 21st Century, this ancient Indian system combines breathing techniques, meditation, and exercise to reduce pain, improve health, and acquire a sense of calmness or happiness.
- Tai chi. This Chinese form of non-combative martial arts consists of gentle movements to support or improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength, coordination, and stamina. It also helps to clear the mind and relax the body, among many other benefits.
Are There Other Cancer Pain Management Options?
Additional techniques that may ease chronic pain from cancer include:
- Acupuncture. This coveted ancient form of Chinese medicine involves inserting fine needles into specific points of the skin to treat various diseases and pain conditions.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy. In this technique, an electrical current passes through the skin via electrodes, stimulating a pain-relieving response from the body.
Cancer Pain Control Can Improve Your Quality of Life
When people say they are in pain, it usually means something is hurting. Except, it can also mean that they are having a difficult time feeling comfortable. Cancer patients in pain could be feeling bad in general, but not in any one place. The pain can be twice as excruciating if a person is depressed and/or anxious. Sadly, some people have trouble talking about their pain. If you are suffering, you must tell your cancer care team about it immediately, describing the pain in the best way you can.
Pain from cancer can consume you, weaken you, and prevent you from doing things that you love and need to accomplish. Fortunately, there are ways to address cancer pain, enabling you to continue many of your normal activities. Call New Hope Unlimited now at 480-666-1403 to schedule a consultation and know about your options.