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Pain management for brain cancer

pain management

What is pain management?

Pain management is a branch of medicine focused on reducing pain and improving quality of life through an integrative approach to care. Pain management is particularly important for cancer patients, considering one in three patients continue to experience pain after treatment. Those with advanced cancer are most likely to have severe pain. The good news, according to the National Cancer Institute, is that up to 90 percent of cancer patients get relief from relatively simple pain management therapies.

Most of the pain associated with cancer can be blamed on the tumor itself. The tumor pushes on nerves, bones or organs, which can lead to significant discomfort. Pain also can result from common cancer treatments: chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. For example, chemotherapy can lead to peripheral neuropathy, a condition that includes tingling, numbness and weakness in the hands and arms or legs and feet.

Pain management can improve quality of life at any stage of cancer, so managing your pain is our priority. Our experienced Pain Management team cares for you throughout your treatment to help reduce your pain and ensure that you are comfortable. We use a variety of modalities to treat and control pain, including:

  • Prescription medications
  • Implanted pain pumps
  • Nerve block therapies
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture and auriculotherapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Relaxation techniques and guided imagery
  • Chiropractic treatment

Experienced care team

The team approach to care is critical for pain management. Our pain management team is fully integrated with your oncologist and other members of your care team. In addition to medication, your pain management regimen may include one or more of our integrative oncology services:

  • Naturopathic medicine uses natural therapies to help you combat pain, as well as reduce the hormonal side effects that may accompany cancer treatment.
  • Oncology rehabilitation plays a key role in pain management by using a variety of physical therapy and other techniques to improve mobility and trigger the release of endorphins, which are the immune system’s natural defense against pain.
  • The Mind-Body Medicine team is available to teach you relaxation tools to help you manage pain, and to reduce the anxiety and fatigue related to cancer or cancer treatment.

For patients staying at the hospital, “Comfort Rounds” are conducted twice weekly. During these visits, pain management practitioners thoroughly evaluate your current pain level and how your current treatment approach is working. Based on their evaluation, these clinicians will make any necessary modifications to your treatment plan.

Personalized treatment approach

The pain symptoms you experience are unique, which is why we tailor your pain management plan to your individual case. Pain itself can be dull, achy or sharp. It can occur frequently or once in a while, and it can be mild, moderate or severe. The pain you experience may depend on your cancer type and stage, how much the cancer has spread, and how sensitive you are to pain (your tolerance for pain). Whatever type of pain you experience, we want to treat it early to prevent it from worsening.

Managing side effects

Some prescription medicines used to treat pain have side effects, including nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation and drowsiness. Your doctor may change the dosage, time taken or the medicine itself to see if you experience fewer side effects. In addition, our integrative oncology services can help you manage any side effects that you experience with pain management. We offer nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, mind-body medicine and other services.

Pain management

Video: Pain Management

Dr. Mark Axness briefly discusses the individualized pain management cancer patients receive at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Pain management for brain cancer

Pain associated with brain cancer is generally related to the tumor size and location. Since there are many different tumors that can form in the brain, pain varies for each individual. Neuropathic pain is common for brain cancer patients.

Throughout your treatment, the pain management team is on call 24/7 to help you anticipate and proactively manage cancer-related pain.

We'll ensure you are comfortable and continually receiving the pain relief you need. We will also troubleshoot any side effects of pain medication, such as nausea, drowsiness and constipation. The goal is to find a balance between controlling pain and preserving quality of life.

Your care team collaborates to control your pain

Our pain management team is fully integrated with the other disciplines offered at the hospital to help control pain:

  • Naturopathic medicine: We use natural therapies, including amino acids, fish oil, herbs and vitamin complexes to repair nerve damage and reduce neuropathic pain.
  • Acupuncture: We use thin needles applied to specific areas of the body (acupoints) to stimulate energy flow and relieve pain.
  • Oncology rehabilitation: We use physical and occupational therapies and massage to increase strength, improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Mind-body medicine: We use counseling and relaxation techniques to alleviate symptoms contributing to pain, such as depression or anxiety.
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