According to British Pain Society, cancer, itself and treatment modalities like medicine and surgery can cause pain.
- Tumor: Enlarging tumor pressing on tissues around it-like bone and spinal cord
- Nerve damage: Due to tumor pressure, block in blood supply or anticancer therapy like surgery
- Inflammation: Damaged tissues release chemicals that increase sensitivity of nerve fibres
- Medical tests: Diagnostic tests like biopsy, bone marrow examination and spinal tap are painful
- Cancer therapy: Chemotherapy drugs and surgical removal of tumor
- Psychological status :Fear and anxiety worsen the pain
Different kind of cancer pain
Cancer pain can range from mild to severe intensity and categorized as follows.
- Acute pain: Severe pain lasting for short time
- Chronic pain: Mild to intense pain that comes and goes
- Breakthrough pain :Sudden severe pain lasting for short time even patient is on medication
Coping with cancer pain
According to National Cancer Institute, there are medicines and other ways available to cope with cancer pain effectively. Moreover, open discussion with doctor and health care team will help to find the best possible way to control cancer pain so patient can enjoy active life.
Different types of pain killers and their combination are effective in controlling cancer pain. Mild to moderate pain can be managed with pain killers like acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen and aspirin. For severe pain, doctor may recommend opioids like morphine and fentanyl. Certain type of cancer needs additional medication such as antidepressant, local anesthetics, steroids and anti-convulsant to manage pain.
Discussing with doctor about medication would immensely help in selecting proper medicine and doses.
Heat and cold application:
Heat and cold application have gained popularity since a long period. Heat relieves sore muscles while cold numb pain sensation. Hot-water bottle, heating pad, and hot moist towel are good for heat application while ice cubes wrapped in towels are better for cold application.
An integrative treatment approach of acupuncture may be more beneficial in reliving cancer pain. Technique involves inserting needle on specific point on the body which restores body balance. Canadian cancer society reported that acupuncture is found to reduce narcotic medication dose and associated toxicity in some cancer related pain.
Distraction involves diverting patient attention on something else instead of pain. Listening to music, watching T.V., singing and praying are good distraction choices when a patient is in pain. Patient must have full attention on a specific task to achieve better pain control.
It involves use of technique that aware patient about how to control body function like muscle tension. According to Standford medicine cancer institute use of devices in biofeedback train patient to regulate body processes and useful in reducing the severity of chronic pain.
Implication of this method required professional guidance and strong patient. It is a state of relaxed and focused attention that either blocks the awareness of pain or change sensation of pain.
Imagery is a process of achieving a state of daydreaming. Instead of concentrating on pain, patient is asked to closed eyes and creates mental images of happy and pleasant pictures like nature, sound, and feelings that relax the mind. This help to reduce stress and improve sense of well-being.
A study published in Journal Current pain and headache reports demonstrated that therapeutic massage in cancer pain is safe and effective and relieve procedure associated pain. Massage improves blood flow; reduce swelling and relieved pain associated with muscle spasms. Additionally, it also deals with fatigue and stress.
Body mind integration approach of meditation calm mind and relax a body. This is a great way to take away fear and anxiety associated with disease. According to American Cancer Society, it is beneficial complementary therapy in treating chronic pain and improving quality of life.
These current standard interventions definitely help cancer patients to get out of pain situation.