How Can We Reduce the Cancer-Related Pain?
Cancer pain is a common problem for cancer patients. According to a Journal of Clinical Oncology study, approximately 5% to 10% of cancer survivors suffer from chronic pain five years after diagnosis.
It can be sharp, burning, or throbbing in nature. Depending on the treatment for your cancer, you may have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and fatigue. Cancer pain does not always have a specific cause, so it can be more challenging to treat than most other types of pain.
Cancer-related pain may occur during or after treatment (such as radiation therapy) or when there’s no apparent cause (idiopathic). A variety of things can contribute to this type of pain, including:
- Tumor growth
- Chemotherapy side effects
- Bone metastases
- Nerve damage due to tumor infiltration
How to reduce cancer-related pain.
THC is the main component of marijuana. It’s a chemical that can activate receptors in the brain associated with pain relief. There have been some reports that suggest that cannabis–containing products may help relieve cancer pain.
There are two ways cannabis can help treat cancer pain:
THC oil — The THC in THC Vape pen stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component in cannabis. It binds to brain receptors and the body called cannabinoid receptors. When these chemicals bind together, they can create a feeling of relaxation and euphoria. THC oil can be taken orally or applied topically to the skin in the form of a cream or salve.
CBD oil stands for cannabidiol, another chemical found in cannabis that doesn’t get you high. Research shows that CBD may help reduce inflammation, and relieve chronic pain caused by cancer treatment or other conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia. However, it is essential to get an expert opinion on using medicinal marijuana for any such use.
Nerve blocks are another way of treating cancer pain. A nerve block involves injecting an anesthetic into the area around a nerve that sends pain signals to your brain. This numbs the place where this nerve comes out of your spine (known as a ganglion) and stops it from sending any more pain signals to your brain.
Nerve blocks can be used alone or alongside other treatments to relieve pain in specific areas of your body, e.g., shoulder or leg, if it’s affected by cancer treatment (for example, chemotherapy).
Non-opioid pain relievers
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to treat cancer-related pain. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). These drugs work by restricting the production of chemicals in the body that causes inflammation and reduces sensitivity to pain. They also inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, which helps alleviate inflammation and swelling.
NSAIDs are generally safe and well-tolerated when taken at low doses for short periods. However, they increase the risk of bleeding in those who take blood thinners such as warfarin or aspirin products containing dipyridamole (Aggrenox). Avoid taking NSAIDs if you have a history of ulcers or bleeding problems — these may increase your chances of developing complications from using them.
Acupuncture is one of the most effective treatments for cancer pain. It works by stimulating the secretion of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
Acupuncture can be used at any stage of treatment. However, it’s beneficial if you have early-stage cancer that hasn’t spread to other parts of your body, as it may help prevent the need for more powerful medication later on.
You can have acupuncture alone or alongside other treatments such as painkillers, steroid injections, and nerve blocks. If you have advanced cancer, acupuncture isn’t recommended because it may cause a temporary increase in pain while the needles are being inserted and removed.
Massage therapy can help improve circulation and reduce muscle tension, which may help relieve pain and stiffness.
They may use heat or cold packs before starting the massage to relax your muscles before working on them.
You might want to talk with your health care team first if you’re thinking about getting a massage. They will be able to tell you if there are any risks associated with it — or if there are other things they want you to do before getting a massage.
Hypnotherapy is a treatment that can help you manage your pain and anxiety.
Hypnosis can be used to relieve cancer pain by helping you control your emotions and feelings about the pain. It’s also helpful in improving your emotional well-being because it can reduce stress and make you feel more relaxed.
Hypnosis involves a trained therapist guiding you into a state of deep relaxation. When you’re in this state, they can suggest specific ways of thinking or behaving that are beneficial to you. Hypnotherapy isn’t just about relaxation; it effectively treats many conditions, including anxiety and depression, and managing pain.
Cancer pain is a widely under-recognized problem and can have a devastating impact on the quality of life of cancer patients. There are many prescription drugs available today, but unfortunately, some can be toxic or may cause unwanted side effects. It is always good to consult a specialist to get your best match.