If you are suffering from cancer, you may have to deal with a lot of pain. While not everyone with cancer experiences pain, a significant number do. The pain that you feel will be different based on the type of cancer that you have. Sometimes you might have several different forms of pain, making it difficult to explain. Additionally, with cancer pain comes not only the physical discomfort but also emotional pain, as well.
What are the different types of cancer pain?
There are different types of pain associated with cancer. The type of pain you experience can vary depending on the type of cancer you have and the specific way it affects your body. Bone pain is the most common type of discomfort associated with cancer. This happens when a tumor either grows into the bones or starts pressing against them. This is a deep, aching pain and is usually chronic.
Burning pain is also common for those with cancer. In some cases the tumor may be pressing on a nerve, causing a constant burning pain. Other times nerve damage due to surgery or chemotherapy causes this pain. If you had an area of your body removed due to cancer, such as a mastectomy for those with breast cancer, you may experience phantom pain. Phantom pain happens when nerve endings still send pain signals, even though the body part is gone.
It’s important to be able to articulate the type of pain that you’re feeling to your doctor in order to get the best treatment available. Here are some important terms to know:
- Deep, aching pain: pressure on your bones can cause deep pain
- Burning pain: burning pain happens when there is pressure on your nerves. This is frequently caused by chemotherapy, radiation or surgery
- Phantom pain: phantom pain is pain that is experienced in a body part that has been removed, such as an arm or breast, for example
- Emotional pain: Emotional pain refers to feelings of anxiety or depression that result from being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment
- Acute pain: intense pain that lasts for a short time
- Chronic pain: pain that occurs over a long period of time
What Causes Cancer Pain?
There are a number of different causes of cancer pain. For example, the pain can stem from a tumor itself or the damage that it has caused the surrounding tissue or organs. For example, deep pain can occur in the bones from a tumor placing pressure on the bone, and burning pain can occur when a tumor presses against a nerve.
There is also discomfort and pain associated with many cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. In some cases, the pain you experience is associated with nerve damage. The nerves can be damaged during treatment or from the cancer itself. Additionally, nerves could be signaling the brain that damage is either occurring or could occur. Nerve damage typically can’t be reversed and causes chronic pain.
What Can I Do?
If you’re experiencing cancer-related pain, make sure to check with your doctor about treatment options. Pain can be managed, and does not have to be a crippling experience. There are traditional methods of pain relief, such as steroids or nerve blockers. However, there are also other ways to work through your experience. Consider alternate options such as massage, acupuncture or other natural pain relief remedies.