Multiple myeloma can be painful. Cancer cells may build up in your bone marrow and put pressure on bones, nerves, muscles, or other tissues in different parts of your body. The disease also damages bones, which can cause pain, too. The pain can last for a short time, or you could have long-lasting pain.

If you're having pain, you don't have to just live with it. Work with your doctor and explore ways to treat it.

Which Drugs Can Treat My Multiple Myeloma Pain?

Medications are one way to help you handle pain, and there are many to choose from. Your doctor will talk with you about when and how often to take pain medicine. Always ask your doctor before you take anything, even those you can get from the drugstore.

Drugs that treat multiple myeloma pain include:

Over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. They help with mild to moderate pain.

Opioids. These are stronger pain-fighting medicines that you get with a doctor's prescription. Morphine is one of the most common for multiple myeloma pain. Other opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, and oxycodone. These may come in pills, patches, lozenges, or a spray.

Antidepressants. Some of these drugs, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and duloxetine (Cymbalta) can help treat nerve pain, called neuropathy, that may happen in multiple myeloma.

Anticonvulsants. Medications like gabapentin (Neurontin) or topiramate (Topamax) also treat nerve pain and may ease a painful condition called postherpetic neuralgia that can happen with multiple myeloma.

Corticosteroids. These medicines, like gabapentin (Gralise, Gabarone, Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica) also treat nerve pain.

Anesthetics. Lidocaine skin patches, ointments, and gels can numb pain in specific areas. Your doctor can also inject anesthetic or anti-inflammatory drugs near a painful spot or nerve center, which is called a nerve block.

Are There Other Ways to Treat Pain?

Your doctor might talk to you about other choices if your multiple myeloma pain is long-lasting or severe. One of them is to put a small device, called an intrathecal pump, into your body that can drip pain medicine into the area around your spinal cord. Another kind of device goes into your body near your spinal cord and releases low-voltage electricity to block nerve pain signals.

What About Natural Pain Relief?

Along with medication, complementary therapies may ease pain, lower stress, and help you feel better. These include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Heat or cold applied to painful areas of the body
  • Exercise
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Counseling to ease stress
  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis
  • Guided imagery
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic touch
  • Music therapy

Talk to your doctor before you try any complementary therapy to make sure it's a good choice for you.

A healthy lifestyle also can help you feel better with multiple myeloma and may help you fight pain. Healthy eating and regular exercise can give you energy, keep your muscles and bones strong, and curb your stress. Talk to your doctor or nurse about how much rest you need each day and how often you can be active.

Smoking and drinking too much may make you feel worse. Ask your doctor for help quitting or cutting back.

WebMD Medical Reference

WebMD Voices

Eric A., 51
Annapolis, MD
To help with fatigue, I've always received my treatments on Friday afternoon. This allows me to go home straight after. I then have the weekend to rest and recuperate. Typically the second day after treatment has me feeling the worst. I try to make time for extra rest and a nap in the afternoon on Sunday.
Bob T., 61
Forest Hills, NY
One of the most important things that I learned when I was diagnosed with myeloma is not to shut out the world or go quiet. Tell people what happened. It isn't some sort of thing that you should view as a weakness or a mark of shame. You need to get comfort—and information. Isolation will only breed fear.
Michelle C., 51
New York, NY
Infection can not only put you in the hospital but prevent you from continuing treatment. Keeping well while being around children all the time can be tricky. It's important to wear a mask regularly if you must be in a crowd. If you can, enjoy vacations and high traffic places while your numbers are good!
NEXT IN THE SERIES