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Pain Control PDF Print E-mail

Having cancer doesn't always mean that you'll have pain. But if you do, you shouldn't accept pain as normal. Most types of pain can be treated. Your doctor can help control pain with different medicines and treatments.

You may want to ask your doctor if you can talk to a pain specialist. Many hospitals have doctors on staff who are experts at treating pain. They may also have palliative medicine specialists.

Managing your pain helps you sleep and eat better. It makes it easier to enjoy your family and friends and focus on what gives you joy.

There are a few different ways to take pain medicine, including:

  • By mouth
  • Through the skin (like with a patch)
  • By shots
  • Intravenously

Your medicine, and how you take it, will depend on the type of pain and its cause. For example, for constant pain you may need a steady dose of medicine over a long period of time. You might use a patch placed on the skin or a slow release pill.

Medicines can be used for all types of pain, including:

  • Mild to medium pain
  • Medium to very bad pain
  • Breakthrough pain
  • Tingling and burning pain
  • Pain caused by swelling

You should have regular talks with your healthcare team about the type and extent of your pain. That's because pain can change throughout your illness. Let them know the kind of pain you have, how bad it is, and where it hurts.

You may want to keep a "pain diary." Include the time of day that the pain occurred and what you were doing. Rate the pain on a scale of 0 to 10. (Zero means no pain, and 10 is the worst pain you could have.) Use the diary when you talk to your doctor about your pain.

Unlike other medicines, there is no "right" dose for many pain medicines. Yours may be larger or smaller than someone else's. The right dose is the one that relieves your pain and makes you feel better.

Other Ways to Treat Pain

Cancer pain is usually treated with medicine and other therapies. But there are also some non-drug treatments. They are forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Many people have found the methods listed below helpful. But talk with your healthcare team before trying any of them. Make sure they are safe and won't interfere with your cancer treatment.

  • Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that stimulates certain points on the body using small needles. It may help treat nausea and control pain. Before using acupuncture, ask your healthcare team if it is safe for your type of cancer.
  • Imagery is imagining scenes, pictures, or experiences to feel calmer or perhaps to help the body heal.
  • Relaxation techniques include deep breathing and exercises to relax your muscles.
  • Hypnosis is a state of relaxed and focused attention. One focuses on a certain feeling, idea, or suggestion.
  • Biofeedback is the use of a special machine to help the patient learn how to control certain body functions. These are things that we are normally not aware of (such as heart rate).
  • Massage therapy brings relaxation and a sense of well-being by the gentle rubbing of different body parts or muscles. Before you try this, you need to check with your doctor. Massage is not recommended for some kinds of cancer.

These methods may also help manage stress. Again, talk to your healthcare team before using anything new, no matter how safe it may seem. Ask your healthcare team for more information about where to get these treatments.

Educational information provided by The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Internet site.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 February 2009 20:58
 
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