7 Ways to Manage Cancer Pain

Like other pain, the frequency and severity of cancer pain vary. It can be mild, moderate, and severe, as well as constant or chronic. 

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to remove cancer can reduce pain and improve quality of life.

However, these are direct interventions oncologists (doctors who specialize in treating cancer) use to treat and manage cancer itself.

For pain specialists, the goal is to lessen or eliminate pain caused by cancer. Let’s look at seven ways they manage cancer pain. 

1. Anti-depressants and Anticonvulsants

Antidepressants such as Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can provide cancer pain relief. 

Studies show that SNRIs are well-tolerated by cancer patients and beneficial in managing neuropathic pain, a type of pain that cancer can cause. TCAs are an older type of antidepressant. 

They can also provide relief from neuropathic pain caused by cancer but are not as well tolerated by cancer patients. 

2. Nerve Stimulation 

Peripheral nerve stimulation may be effective in managing cancer pain.

This pain management method involves surgically planting a small electrical device near the spine or brain. The device transmits electrical impulses to specific nerves that block pain messages from reaching the brain.

3. Nerve blocks

Nerve blocks are injections of local anesthetics into the space around the spinal cord that block the nerves around the spinal cord from sending pain messages to the brain. 

Nerve block injections can provide relief from moderate to severe cancer pain.

4. Complementary/Integrative Approaches 

Pain management specialists may recommend adding these non-medical approaches to a cancer pain management plan at any time.

They include acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, relaxation techniques, and movement therapies. 

5. OTC Pain Medications

Pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories ( aspirin and ibuprofen) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can treat moderate to severe cancer pain. Always check with your doctor before taking these medications. 

They can cause dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects and are particularly dangerous when taken during chemotherapy treatment. 

6. Marijuana 

In some states, marijuana is legal and prescribed for cancer pain. Studies have found that marijuana can be effective in managing neuropathic pain caused by cancer. 

Also, CBD or cannabis in marijuana can reduce inflammation, which can bring pain relief.

7. Narcotic Pain Relievers

Opioids or narcotic pain relievers such as morphine and oxycodone relieve moderate to severe cancer pain.

Other medications and treatments are preferable, however, since narcotic pain relievers can foster drug dependency. 

Cancer Pain Treatment and Management in Texas

At Texas Pain Physicians, our board-certified physicians are skilled in managing cancer pain.

We can help you set realistic cancer pain management goals and closely monitor the success of your treatment. Please give us a call or book your appointment online today!

Neuropathy: 7 Pain Treatment and Management Options

Stabbing, shooting, burning, and electric shock-like pain. Tingling and pins and needles sensations. 

Living with nerve pain and discomfort from neuropathy can be very, very hard. But pain management specialists know what to do. 

Once they have determined the underlying cause and the type of nerve damage, they can recommend effective treatment and management.

1. Diabetic Care

Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy (60-70 percent of people with diabetes suffer from some form of neuropathic pain). When diabetes is the cause, proper diabetic care can decrease and eliminate symptoms. 

2. Antidepressants 

Doctors often prescribe antidepressant drugs like tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors to treat neuropathy.

These drugs can reduce neuropathic pain by increasing chemicals in the brain that reduce incoming pain signals.

3. Anticonvulsants 

Pain specialists sometimes prescribe anticonvulsants to treat neuropathic pain because they may stop damaged nerves from transmitting faulty pain signals. 

4. Nerve Blocks

Nerve blocks can provide long-lasting relief from neuropathic pain.

A nerve block procedure involves injecting steroids, anesthetics, and other medications into the nerves producing faulty pain transmissions. The pain relief can last for days, weeks, or months. 

5. Electrical Impulse Stimulation

Typically, this treatment option is used only after other options have failed. 

Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

First, a surgeon performs a minimally invasive surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator. A spinal cord stimulator is a device that generates electrical impulses on your spine.

The electrical impulses alter how your brain processes pain by sending electrical impulses to the nerves in the spinal cord. 

Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation (DRGS)

If you suffer from neuropathy of the feet, hands, knees, groin, and chest, dorsal root ganglion stimulation is likely a better treatment option than spinal cord stimulation.

Like SCS, DRGS treatment uses electrical impulses to stop nerve pain. However, unlike SCS, DRGS trains electrical impulses on nerves in certain body parts (hands, feet, chest, etc.). 

Like SCS, a DRGS device implant on the spine involves a short surgical procedure.

6. Multidisciplinary Approach 

Neuropathic pain often responds poorly to any single pain treatment or management method.

A multidisciplinary approach that combines one or more methods, such as medications, physical therapy, psychological treatment, and surgery, can be much more effective.

Pain specialists coordinate with other health professionals to provide patients with the best possible pain treatment and management. 

7. OTC painkillers

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can provide fast, convenient relief from neuropathic pain. However, they are often not effective when used without other treatments and therapies.

Neuropathy Treatment and Management in Texas

The pain and discomfort of neuropathy and the loss of sleep, anxiety, and depression that can accompany it, can be challenging to handle. 

At Texas Pain Physicians, our pain management specialists will work day and night to find the best course of treatment and management for you.

Please give us a call or book your appointment online today.