If you are dealing with cancer pain, it can be acute pain or it can become long-term Chronic Pain depending on your type of cancer and your treatment protocol. There are two sources for the physical cancer pain you might experience:
• Nociceptive pain, which is pain that the nerves relay. Their job is to tell you there is damage in part(s) of your body. This pain is generally a feeling of pressure or aching. Almost all cancer patients have this type of pain.
• Neuropathic pain, which is nerve pain, occurs because there has been damage done to the nervous system. This pain is usually sharp and/or stabbing.
• Bone pain occurs when the cancer has spread into the bone and damage has occurred. This is a dull, throbbing, aching kind of pain. It can also occur after radiation.
• Soft tissue pain is felt in areas where the tissue is damaged either by the cancer or by treatment. It is felt as a cramping, throbbing, aching and sometimes sharp pain.
• Phantom pain means the damaged area of the body is removed, but the pain remains. This pain is very real and for some it is unbearable.
• Referred pain is when the pain is actually felt in a completely different part of the body. For example, you might have a swollen liver that causes your shoulder to ache. That’s because the swelling is putting pressure on the nerve ends of the shoulder.
You can see why it can be difficult to treat cancer pain properly and why it is important to have a Pain Management Specialist work with you, if treatments are not controlling your pain.
The type of pain you experience says a great deal about your cancer. Pain and/or changes to your pain can occur days, weeks, or even months before a complication shows. In fact, that pain is often the only clue of a potentially life threatening event, which is why it is so important to tell your oncologist or pain doctor about any pain you are having.
Cancer pain is a complicated array of relationships that can sometimes make it difficult to determine where the actual pain is coming from. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can do significant damage to nerves and tissues. Surgery can also cause nerve damage. Pain treatment can often continue long after the cancer treatments are over.
Cancer pain affects one’s quality of life four key ways:
• Psychologically – patients find it hard to cope.
• Physically – patients feel weak.
• Spiritually – patients suffering may cause them to question what they believe.
• Socially – the relationships of patients suffer.
Treating Cancer Pain
Pain control is necessary. Cancer patients should not deal with the suffering that is unnecessary as this can further weaken a person. When it is possible to relieve the pain by treating the cancer, that is what is done. For example, removing a tumor might decrease the pain. However, usually other pain relief is still necessary.
Mild to Moderate Cancer Pain
When there is pain, but it is mild to moderate, your Pain Doctor might use pain relievers like NSAIDs, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) or acetaminophen.
When there is severe pain an opioid analgesic such as morphine or codeine are often used. This might be prescribed in addition to the aspirin, NSAIDs or acetaminophen. Opioids can be taken orally, through the skin using patches, with injections, or by using a continuous infusion pump. Other medications can help for neuropathic pain, such as muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and antidepressants. In severe bone pain bisphosphonates might be prescribed.
Also Read: Common Causes Of Chronic Joint Pain