Getting a cancer diagnosis changes everything. And when the diagnosis and treatment are accompanied by cancer pain, it can be difficult to cope — especially when the solutions offered are more medications on top of your cancer protocol.
At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Northern Virginia, our pain management specialists, John Huffman, MD, and Talal Ghazal, MD, specialize in helping cancer patients find relief from the pain their condition causes.
Our practice offers different solutions for managing cancer pain, including opioid pain medication, antidepressants, anti-seizure medication, steroid injections, and nerve blocks. But we also understand the important role drug-free solutions provide.
One of the most important pain management tools for cancer patients is physical therapy. Here’s a look at how this noninvasive treatment can help ease your pain.
What is cancer pain?
While not all cancer patients experience pain, the majority do — and for many, the pain associated with their cancer or cancer treatment can be debilitating. Pain is almost guaranteed for patients whose cancer has spread and for those with recurring cancer.
However, cancer pain isn’t uniform, and it varies from patient to patient depending on many different factors. Some of the most common types of cancer pain include:
- Neuropathic or Nerve Pain: This type of pain can result for many reasons, including chemotherapy medications, compression of nerves by tumors, and surgery. Nerve pain feels like burning, shooting, tingling, or crawling sensations. It can also last long after the cancer treatments are through.
- Bone Pain: Patients with bone cancer may experience this deep, dull, aching pain, as may patients who receive medications that affect their bone marrow. Some people also experience somatic bone pain caused by nerves.
- Soft Tissue Pain: This pain typically arises from issues with an organ, muscle, ligament, or other soft tissue. It can be challenging to determine the exact tissues involved with soft tissue pain due to the connective nature of the body. Patients often describe this pain in different ways, including throbbing, aching, cramping, or stabbing.
- Phantom Pain: Phantom cancer pain refers to pain felt in a part of the body that’s been surgically removed, such as an arm, leg, or breast. Caused by nerve damage, this cancer pain can be minor, causing tingling sensations, or excruciating.
- Referred Pain: When you feel pain in a different part of the body than the area that’s been damaged or inflamed, you’re experiencing referred pain. For example, surgery in the abdomen may trigger referred pain in your shoulder or back.
If you have cancer and are experiencing any type of pain, don’t wait to seek help from experienced pain management specialists. The providers at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists offer the best solutions possible based on your unique needs.
How can physical therapy help alleviate cancer pain?
Although physical therapy may not be the first thing that leaps to mind when you think about easing your cancer pain, the truth is that non-medicinal therapies play an important role both in managing your pain and in your overall recovery.
The specially prescribed exercises, stretches, electronic stimulation, and therapeutic massage involved with cancer-related physical therapy help your body cope with cancer pain and pain caused by your treatments by giving you:
- Improved drainage of the lymphatic system to prevent or improve lymphedema
- Better nerve function to alleviate neuropathy
- Increased cardiovascular functioning to ease the drain of treatment
- Decreased intensity and frequency of cancer pain
- Improved mobility, balance, and coordination
- Minimized scarring and skin tightness from surgical incisions
- Elevated mood and reduced symptoms of depression
For help with cancer pain, contact the experts at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia by calling 571-210-1698. You can also book an appointment online.