Pain Management for Cancer Patients
Pain Management for Cancer Patients is the eighth in a series of ten articles from the book Pain Management by Robert Hoffman
Alternative Pain Management for Cancer Patients
If you have cancer, pain is an inevitable symptom you have to deal with. You could be hurting somewhere specific, or it may feel like you’re hurting everywhere. Whichever case, it will be very difficult to feel comfortable or to be in a frame of mind to think clearly and do what needs to be done when you’re feeling pain.
For cancer patients, treatments and pain management are almost always focused on medication. However, cancer medications have side effects, such as nausea, fatigue, and constipation, which make it all the more difficult for patients to take their medicines.
Cancer symptoms and side effects can also result in and worsen mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, which can further exacerbate the pain. For many reasons beyond the reduction of pain itself, it is important for cancer patients to have an effective pain management plan in place.
Studies have shown that complementary and alternative pain management therapies are beneficial to cancer patients. They can provide essential pain relief which helps improve quality of life. Here are some of the alternative pain management options that have provided relief to other sufferers.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been practiced all over the world as an alternative or complementary treatment, alongside conventional medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that a human’s body has an energy system that enables it to perform its various functions. When the energy is blocked, it causes an imbalance in the body, leading to illnesses.
Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving nausea and dizziness among cancer patients. It helps relieve joint pains, hot flashes, and fatigue, particularly after chemotherapy sessions. Inserting tiny needles in key points in the body helps remove the energy clogs, allowing it to flow properly. The needles stimulate the neural system, producing rapid analgesia.
Massage involves kneading the skin and muscles to promote relaxation and relieve the body’s muscle tension. It is one of the most recognized additions to conventional treatment for cancer patients. Massage also helps ease anxiety and stress, further relieving pain.
There are many kinds of massage, and studies have shown that they provide benefits in pain management for cancer patients. However, the effects are relatively short-term, and more research is needed to document the long-term physical and psychological effects of massage.
Fear of the unknown, and the future, is common among cancer patients, particularly those who have just been diagnosed. That’s why they are very prone to experiencing stress, anxiety, and resultant pain. Hypnotherapy has been found to be effective in managing physical and emotional pain in cancer patients. With the help of a professional therapist, a patient is put into a trance-like state, accessing the deep unconscious mind.
With hypnotherapy, the patient is taught how to cope better with cancer symptoms and the necessary treatments. Hypnosis enables the patient to control their pain and reduce stress. Contrary to the popular misconception that hypnosis takes away control, it makes the patient feel more in control of what they are experiencing.
Meditation brings a peaceful state, where you start to focus on your breathing, then on the things around you. It promotes relaxation, relieving your anxiety and stress. In cancer patients, meditation helps reduce reactivity to pain by using positive imagery and visualization.
Studies have proven that meditation is beneficial in pain management, physical functioning, and emotional well-being among those who suffer from cancer.
Yoga is an ancient practice that mainly involves posing techniques and breathing strategies to restore and maintain the balance of the body and its energy system, called prana. Many cancer patients have declared the benefits of yoga in managing their pain, particularly as yoga also improves their emotional strength and hope. Cancer patients say that yoga has helped them deal with joint pain and the emotional burden that accompanies each chemotherapy session.
Cancer patients go through many uncomfortable symptoms, including pain all over the body as a result of surgery. Most healthcare providers would prescribe pain relievers, which is why many patients fall victim to opioid addiction. Knowing these alternative pain management options will help some cancer patients a great deal in treating their pain and symptoms.