You are the only one who knows how your cancer pain feels. You may need different combinations of treatments. Don't be surprised if your pain control plan needs to be changed often. Don't let that discourage you. Be honest and specific about what does and does not work for you. Staying on top of your pain and in control of your pain will improve your quality of life during every stage of your disease.
Drugs that you can buy without a doctor's prescription may be enough to relieve your pain at times. Reference Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, relieves pain, while Reference other drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin relieve pain and also decrease swelling. But talk with your doctor before you take these medicines. And don't take more than the label says unless your doctor tells you to.
Drugs that need a doctor's prescription may be stronger or work differently than nonprescription drugs. Follow your doctor's orders about taking them. Prescription drugs include:
- Reference Anti-inflammatory drugs Opens New Window and Reference corticosteroids Opens New Window.
- Reference Bisphosphonates and other medicines, to slow bone changes related to cancer.
- Reference Opiate pain relievers.
- Reference Drugs for depression, to treat burning pain. Plus they can help you sleep.
- Certain Reference drugs for seizures, to help control nerve pain, like burning and tingling.
Medicines for breakthrough pain
This is extra medicine for when strong pain comes on suddenly. These prescription medicines are usually fast-acting opioids given by mouth, such as morphine or oxycodone. Or you may be given Reference fentanyl in a nasal spray or in lozenges that dissolve under your tongue.
Other treatment options
Medical treatments can help relieve pain from tumors and nerve pain.
- Ways to shrink, remove, or destroy painful tumors include:
- Hormone therapy.
- Radiofrequency ablation, which uses heat to destroy the tumor.
- Ways to treat nerve pain include:
- Surgery to cut the nerves that relay pain.
- Reference Nerve blocks Opens New Window to help with very bad pain.
- Pain medicine delivered to the spine. This can be done by:
Non-medical ways to relieve pain are often used along with pain medicine. These include:
- Physical treatments, such as Reference physical therapy Opens New Window, Reference light massage, Reference heat or cold, and braces or splints. Other treatments include Reference transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) Opens New Window, in which a mild electrical current from a power pack is used to relieve pain.
- Stretching, Reference yoga, and exercises to help you keep your strength, flexibility, and mobility.
- Behavioral treatments, such as Reference cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Reference relaxation, Reference biofeedback, Reference meditation, or Reference guided imagery.
- Short-term crisis therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with a counselor. This may help you manage your cancer pain or the discomfort from cancer treatments.
- Education and emotional support. Your doctor can refer you to the social services department of your local cancer treatment center or hospital.
- Complementary therapies, such as Reference acupuncture, Reference aromatherapy, Reference prayer, and Reference humor therapy.
For more information about what you can do, see:
Additional information about pain management is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/pain/Patient.
Your doctor may talk to you about Reference palliative care Opens New Window. This is medical care that provides an extra layer of support for people who have serious and chronic illnesses. It can improve quality of life for you and your family. With palliative care, you have the help of a medical team to manage your symptoms, pain, and stress.
For more information, see the topic Reference Palliative Care.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology