If you’re fighting cancer, you likely deal with pain to some extent. Sometimes you might have several different forms of pain, making it difficult to explain to others and challenging for you to manage your day-to-day life. And cancer pain doesn’t simply mean physical discomfort or pain; it’s likely that you’re fighting emotional pain as well. It’s crucial to your healing journey that you have the resources to help you manage it.
What are the different types of cancer pain?
There are many 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 ways 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. Your pain may also be chronic.
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: this type of pain refers to pressure on your bones caused by tumors
- Burning pain: this type of pain happens when there is pressure on your nerves and is frequently caused by chemotherapy, radiation or surgery
- Phantom pain: this type of pain is experienced in a body part that has been removed, such as an arm or breast, for example
- Emotional pain: this type of pain refers to feelings of anxiety or depression that result from being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment
- Acute pain: this type of pain is intense, but may only last for a short time
- Chronic pain: this type of pain 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. 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; it does not have to be a crippling experience. There are traditional methods of pain relief, such as steroids or nerve blockers. There are also other ways to work through your experience and/or to complement the traditional methods you and your healthcare team have chosen. Consider alternate options such as massage, acupuncture or other natural pain relief remedies.