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As the name suggests, cancer pain is a type of pain that arises due to cancer itself or during its treatment. It generally occurs due to the spread of tumors in the body that, when pressed against the bones, tissues, and organs generates stress on those areas. Moreover, tumors also release chemicals that interact with the surrounding hosts to create irritation and burning sensation that initiates pain.
However, there are several types of cancer pain, each with a different reason and result, among which nerve pain and organ pain are the most common.
Nerve pain or neuropathic pain occurs due to the damage inflicted on the nerves by the tumor and pressure generated on the spinal cord. The compromised nerves cause the nervous system to release inappropriate signals that lead to neuropathic pain.
Apart from that, treating cancer requires a series of complicated surgeries and procedures such as radiation, chemotherapy, and sometimes cutting open the wound or body, which, as a result, causes pain.
How severe is it?
Although every cancer patient doesn’t experience cancer pain; however, with the spread of a tumor, there is a higher probability of developing high levels of pain. The pain is yet manageable to some extent if subjected to appropriate appointments, tests, and treatment.
In most cases, cancer pain might restrict you from carrying out a healthy life. It will affect your sleep, eating habits, emotions, behaviors, and daily activities. It can be quite severe in some cases, causing a sharp, burning sensation to the body. However, it can be pretty mild in other scenarios as well. It all depends upon the severity and type of cancer you are dealing with.
The right pain-killers for the job
With the researchers making progress, the understanding of cancer pain is leading to new and improved pain-killer medicines. Although medicines are not the only way to treat cancer pain as chemotherapy and surgery can target and destroy the source of the pain, but traditional pain-killers are always there at an arm’s length to do the job.
Commonly available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin, ketoprofen, and acetaminophen are among the circle of drugs that are best for diagnosing moderate cancer pain. They are readily available and do not necessarily require a prescription from a doctor.
Apart from simple analgesics, adjuvant drugs such as antiepileptics, antiarrhythmics, corticosteroids, and few other muscle relaxants are also ideal for cancer treatment.
Opioid medications like codeine, morphine, methadone along with oxycodone are an excellent pain-reliever for overcoming cancer pain. Such opioid drugs will require a doctor’s prescription and are safe to be used along other pain-killers to treat severe pain. They can be taken orally, through injection, intravenously, or nose spray.
Other drugs familiar to the treatment of cancer pain are antidepressants, stimulants, anti-seizure, anticonvulsants, and steroids drugs. These drugs are notably useful to heal the effects of nerve damage caused by cancer and thus treating the pain and burning sensation familiar to the patient.
Cancer pain is very much manageable. Almost 90% of cancer pain cases can be diagnosed with medications only. Apart from pharmacological procedures of cancer pain, there are several non-pharmacological methods too. These include physiotherapy, stress management techniques, and muscle relaxation, etc. With proper care and strict follow up to the treatment, cancer pain can be dealt with very well.