Cancer pain can be temporary or chronic and range from mild to severe.
For patients who have failed traditional therapy, our team of trained pain management specialists can help you find a better solution and treatment option to help minimize your pain from this disease.
Joseph was a young man who had found out in his teens that he had colon cancer. Although rare at his young age, cancer can occur in younger patients, and it often causes pain. In undergoing chemotherapy, the medications made all of his hair fall out, but it also caused the cells in his mouth to die off quickly. This caused painful mouth sores. The surgery to remove his malignant colon damaged nerves, and he had chronic pain at the incision site and at the site of his colostomy. In time, the cancer moved to his bones, and this caused his vertebrae to collapse, causing back pain, and his femur to fracture in two places. He was treated with a variety of pain medications, talk therapy, and biofeedback.
Understanding Cancer Pain
Nearly all forms of cancer and their resultant treatments cause pain. Whether you have pain from a spinal tumor pushing on nerves or are suffering the pain from having a breast removed, cancer causes a both physical and psychological pain. Chemotherapy can cause pain to your nerves, and biopsies can be painful, as well. Pain from cancer is multi-factorial, and it requires a multi-faceted approach to treatment.
At SoCal Pain Center, we are sensitive to your pain management needs as a cancer patient, and we can discuss with you any concerns you might have. You should not suffer in pain, and we can help you to manage the medications the best way possible.
Cancerous tumors can grow big enough to impinge on organs, vessels, and nerves, this can cause a deep, visceral pain. Your tumor can grow big enough to push on your spine, and this can trigger back and neck pain that sometimes travels to the arms and legs. When the tumor grows near to the spine, the nerves that come off your spinal cord can become pinched, and this leads to pain along the region that the nerve travels.
Bone pain is a specific type of pain that occurs once the cancer enters the bone. It is a deep ache in the body of the bone that can cause trouble walking, trouble standing, and trouble moving your hands or feet. Bone pain also includes the pain that may occur from fractures, and fractures can lead to a worsening of bone pain in general.
Treatments for cancer often cause pain of their own. Mouth sores and nerve pain in your hands and feet are known side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Pain is common with the tests conducted to diagnose and treat cancer, such as biopsies, and having a surgical procedure can often induce pain as well. If a part of your body is removed, such as a breast, you may experience phantom pain from this procedure.
Myths about Cancer Pain
Many cancer patients are afraid to ask for pain medicine for a number of reasons. First, the fear of becoming an addict is often cited as a reason to endure the pain. This is not likely if you take the medication as prescribed by your doctor. Second, there is the fear of becoming “high.” Pain medications may make you fatigued, but they rarely make you lose control of yourself. Finally, some patients fear developing a tolerance that will render the pain medications ineffective, but this does not occur with proper usage.
Your body will get used to the medication, and it will not take away pain as easily. However, literally hundreds of pain medications and combinations are possible. If you don’t respond to one type of medication, you should respond to a different one. Therefore, taking pain medications for cancer pain is a safe, effective, and humane way of dealing with your condition.
Pain medications are not the only treatments for cancer pain, but they are some of the most effective. For instance, narcotic pain medications and morphine derivatives are often used, but gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication, and Cymbalta, an antidepressant, are often helpful in decreasing nerve pain.
You can be prescribed medications that are extended release and can provide relief for many hours, or you can take medications that combat the breakthrough pain. Some of the newer methods of pain relief are skin patches that release pain medication, such as fentanyl, over a period of time and morphine pumps placed under the skin to administer a continuous dose. In addition, meditation, mental imagery, and distraction are all methods you can use to help lower the amount of pain you feel.
Biofeedback is an alternative method that allows you to visualize your pain on a screen and use your mind to make the pain decrease. Electrodes are attached to your muscles and they record the amount of tension that you are feeling. By relaxing muscles, you see a different waveform on the screen, and this often decreases pain signals.
Acupuncture can help relieve some of the pain you are feeling and provide a sense of overall relief and well-being. The needles can be inserted into different areas that can help increase blood flow to painful regions of the body. The blood flow can help reduce pain and increase the body’s healing tendencies.
At SoCal Pain Center, we are familiar with all of these methods of pain relief for cancer patients. If you have cancer, you should not suffer with the inevitable pain that comes along with it. You owe it to yourself to enjoy life, and you can’t do that if you are in excruciating pain.
Make an appointment today to set up a consultation about your chronic cancer pain.