Cancer pain arises with pain from the tumor itself or from the effects of the treatment that can lead to neuropathy.
What Causes Cancer Pain?
Cancer pain arises with pain from the tumor itself pressing on bones, nerves or organs in the body or from the effects of the treatment that can lead to neuropathy. Being exposed to chemotherapy drugs can cause tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. Some Patients can also feel a burning sensation at the injection site. Skin redness and irritation is also possible if the patient is undergoing radiation therapy.
Types of cancer pain:
There are two types of cancer pain, acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain is caused by an injury such as having cancer surgery and will typically start to fade as the wounds from the surgery heal. Chronic pain is caused by the changes that are happening in your nervous system. Cancerous tumors produce chemicals which can press up against your nerves and cause pain and can also be caused by the cancer treatment you are receiving itself. How much pain you might have can vary in each patient and depends on what stage of cancer you have as well as the cancer type.
It is important to talk to your doctors and pain experts about how they can help relieve your pain symptoms. At Bay State Pain Management we take a wholistic approach to managing your pain. We know that the symptoms of cancer are more than just physical and that it also effects your emotional well being. We also offer support group help for individuals who may be experiencing depression, fear, anxiety or lack of sleep due to cancer pain. Talk to one of our pain experts and take control of your health today.
How Else Can Cancer Pain Be Treated?
Although cancer pain is usually treated with medicine, surgery to remove a tumor or radiation therapy to shrink a tumor can be used along with medicine to provide additional pain relief. In most cases, doctors treat cancer pain with pain-relief medicines called analgesics or with non-drug treatments such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, imagery, biofeedback and relaxation techniques. Other treatment options for cancer patients may include nerve blocks, which involve the injection of pain medicine into or around a nerve or the spine.
Pain from the cancer itself
Pain from the cancer can be caused by a tumor pressing on nerves, bones, or organs.
Spinal cord compression: When a tumor spreads to the spine, it can press on the nerves of the spinal cord. This is called spinal cord compression. The first symptom of spinal cord compression is usually back and/or neck pain, and sometimes it is severe. Pain, numbness, or weakness may also happen in an arm or leg. Coughing, sneezing, or other movements often make the pain worse. If you have this kind of pain, it is considered an emergency and you should get help right away.
Spinal cord compression must be treated right away to keep you from losing control of your bladder or bowel or being paralyzed. If you’re treated for the compression soon after the pain begins, you can usually avoid serious outcomes. Treatment for spinal cord compression usually involves radiation therapy to the area where the tumor is pressing on the spine and steroids to shrink the tumor. Or you may be able to have surgery to remove a tumor that’s pressing on the spine, which may then be followed by radiation.
Bone pain: This type of pain can happen when cancer starts in or spreads to the bones. Treatment may be aimed at controlling the cancer, or it can focus on protecting the affected bones. External radiation may be used to treat the weakened bone. Sometimes a radioactive medicine is given that settles in the affected areas of bone to help make them stronger. Bisphosphonates are drugs that can help make weakened bones stronger and help keep the bones from breaking. These are examples of treatments that are aimed at stopping the cause of the bone pain. You may still need pain medicines, but sometimes these treatments themselves, can greatly reduce your pain.
Bone pain can also happen as a side effect of medicines known as growth factor drugs or colony-stimulating factors (CSFs). These drugs may be given to help prevent white blood cell (WBC) counts from dropping after treatment. CSF drugs help the body produce more WBCs which are made in the bone marrow. Because the bone marrow activity is higher with these drugs, bone pain may occur.