What is pain management?
Managing pain is a priority during cancer treatment. Our experienced Pain Management team cares for you throughout your treatment to 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
Integrated approach to pain control
Our pain management team is fully integrated with your oncologist and other members of your 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, and make any necessary modifications to your treatment plan.
Video: Pain ManagementDr. Mark Axness briefly discusses the individualized pain management cancer patients receive at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Pain management for stomach cancer
Throughout your treatment, the pain management team is on call 24/7 to help you anticipate and proactively manage cancer-related pain.
There are two nerve block therapies commonly used for stomach cancer pain management:
- Celiac plexus block: This procedure aims to reduce chronic pain in the upper abdomen. It blocks the sensation of pain in the bundle of nerves in and around the stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidneys and bowel.
- Hypogastric plexus block: This block affects nerves in the lower abdomen, near the upper front of the pelvis. It can prevent pain in the bladder and lower bowel. For men, it also reduces pain in the testicles, penis and prostate; for women, it minimizes pain in the uterus, ovaries and vagina.
For either of these procedures, an anesthesiologist first must inject a temporary, local anesthetic into the area where the affected nerves are to determine if you experience pain relief. If the temporary block works, the anesthesiologist will administer a neurolytic solution (i.e., pain killing medication) to the same area 24 hours later. This long-term nerve block will destroy the nerves, thereby preventing you from feeling pain in that region of the abdomen.
Stomach cancer patients may experience pain relief from a celiac plexus block or hypogastric plexus block for an extended period, which may last days, weeks or months (depending on your response to the nerve block).