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How to Cope with Chronic Pain Associated with Cancer

Chronic pain is among the long-term effects of cancer treatment. For many patients, cancer has become a chronic illness since it has stayed in the body for a long time. Even those who are cancer-free still experience pain from previous treatments. As more cancer patients live longer because of effective treatment options, the number of people experiencing chronic pain will ironically increase too.

Chronic pain from cancer is manageable as long as you share your pain with your cancer care team. They will offer effective treatment options that will help to alleviate your symptoms.

Causes of Cancer-Related Pain

  • Chronic pain can be caused by the side effects of cancer treatments. For example, surgery may cause painful scar tissues or damage the nerves. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, can cause pain or numbness in the toes and fingers (peripheral neuropathy).
  • Radiation therapy can cause pain to the targeted areas. The pain can also be from the disease itself – often from tumors that grow or spread, putting pressure on nearby organs, nerves or tissues.
  • Cancer patients can also experience pain from the lower back, arthritis, or migraines. This may not be related to cancer, but the cancer team can help you to cope as you seek help from specialists such as interventional pain specialists or neurologists).

How to Manage Chronic Cancer Pain

  • The most crucial step to take when in pain is to talk to your oncologist about it. Once your cancer care team knows your symptoms and how they affect your normal functioning, they will be able to find the right treatment for your case.
  • Prescription opioids can be prescribed by your doctors to alleviate the pain. Painkillers like ibuprofen can be used to manage moderate pain while antidepressants and other medications can be used for nerve pain. At other times, nerve-block injections are used in the pain area to block the pain signals.
  • Sometimes you don’t want to use or rely on medications. There are relaxation techniques like meditation, hot or cold compresses, distraction techniques and acupuncture that you can use to manage your pain.

What you should keep in mind is that you cannot completely eliminate cancer-related pain, but you can manage it for longer. Your cancer care team can help you with a plan that will enable you to carry on with your daily activities with minimal discomfort.

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