Pain Management: Therapies
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Pain management techniques
Your pain specialist will aggressively treat your pain with various pain relief methods, which may include pharmacological approaches and/or non-pharmacological approaches.
Because of the complex nature of cancer-related pain, successful pain management usually involves a combination of techniques.
Pharmacological pain relief
One therapeutic approach, pharmacological pain control, involves the use of analgesic drugs (or painkillers) and other medications that intensify the analgesics' effects or modify your mood or pain perception.
Your pain specialist will work closely with your physicians to recommend a pain control plan and adjust your medications throughout your care.
Your pain specialist will consult with your physician to provide pain medications in any of the following forms:
- By injection (e.g., spinal opiods)
- As a lozenge or mouth rinse
- As a suppository
- Topically, such as a continuous-release pain patch (e.g., fentanyl, lidocaine)
- Through a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pain pump. Some pain-control pumps can also be surgically-implanted in the abdomen to deliver different amounts of pain medication in smaller doses at certain times of day.
If you are about to receive radiation treatment, your pain specialist can provide pain medication to make lying on the table more comfortable. Some drugs work quickly and can help treat short-term breakthrough pain. “It lasts in the body for about 20 minutes and then it’s done. Some things like this make all the difference for patients,” Nye says.
Non-pharmacological pain relief
Other pain relief methods may include palliative treatments. Your clinicians may provide surgery and/or radiation therapy to improve your comfort and quality of life. A nerve block can also provide pain relief by preventing the celiac plexus nerve from carrying painful stimuli from the diseased part of the body to the brain.
In addition, Nye has special training in scar tissue manipulation and massage to help reduce post-surgical pain. This technique can help to desensitize an area of the body and help you get off medications more quickly. Nye will also teach your caregivers how to manipulate the scar near the surgical area once you go home.
Furthermore, insomnia, fatigue and anxiety can make you more sensitive to pain. The pain team will also encourage you to embrace other modalities to control pain and promote your comfort. Complementary medicine treatments, such as naturopathic therapies, acupuncture, mind-body techniques, and rehabilitation therapies can help relieve pain and other symptoms that contribute to it.