Pain management for cancer patients
Many cancer patients deal with continuous pain. It is caused due to the increasing size of a tumour (cancerous tissues) which put excess pressure on the bones or nerves. Also, treatments for cancer patients like chemotherapy and radiotherapy are also painful. Therefore, medication and therapy for managing pain caused due to either of the reasons are essential. There are several ways discovered in present time to manage the pain when a patient is suffering from cancer.
Types of pain experienced by cancer patients:
The first thing to understand is the kind of pain a patient is suffering from. The treatment plan is decided accordingly.
Nerve pain: Damage (due to surgery or chemotherapy) or excessive pressure on nerves or spinal cord causes nerve pain. Nerve pain can be described as burning, shooting, tingling, or as a feeling of something crawling under their skin.
Bone pain: Dull aching or throbbing pain in bones is common for the patients whose cancer has spread to the bones.
Soft tissue pain: Sharp and throbbing pain in muscles or body areas where the affected organ resides is termed as soft tissue pain due to cancer. It is usually difficult to pinpoint such pain.
Phantom pain: A feeling of sharp pain in the body part which has been surgically removed is called phantom pain. Such pain is usually observed in patients whose arms or legs are removed due to sarcoma or in women whose breasts are removed due to breast cancer.
Referred pain: Pain in a certain body part due to cancer or any other organ is called referred pain. For example, liver cancer can cause pain in shoulders.
Ways of Managing Pain due to Cancer:
There are several ways of managing pain caused due to cancer:
In cases of severe pain, surgery is done to remove the tumour mass which is putting pressure on nerves. This procedure is known as debulking.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or opioid drugs are prescribed to the patients depending on the severity of their pain.
Treatment methods like percutaneous cementoplasty, vertebroplasty, and kyphoplasty are performed by the surgeons to fill the gaps in the bones which have been destroyed by cancer. A particular type of cement is either directly applied or injected into the damaged bone areas for this purpose.
Therapies could help relieve the patient from stress and anxiety caused due to a constant feeling of pain. Done under well trained and experienced therapists, below therapies, prove to be helpful to patients.
3. Breathing exercises
6. Hypnotherapy: It is therapy in which the patient is hypnotised into an imaginary state of mind where he/she does not feel pain.
Tips for cancer patients with pain:
Cancer patients must take care of a few things to manage their pain in an efficient manner.
1. It is imperative for cancer patients to follow the doctor’s advice obediently.
2. Follow the medicine chart sincerely.
3. Keep enough medications in stock.
4. See the doctor whenever a new problem is noticed. Do not wait for the pain to get worse.
5. Take proper counselling to resolve each and every small query.