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Cancer Pain - Other Treatment

When medicines are not enough to relieve cancer pain or when they cause troublesome side effects, other treatments may help.

  • Radiation is the use of X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is used to destroy cancer growths that press on your nerves, bones, or spinal cord. The type of radiation that you receive depends on your cancer diagnosis, the area of your body that is affected, and your previous history of radiation therapy. Destroying growths relieves pressure on organs and nerves and reduces pain.
  • Nerve blocks usually are used only after other treatments have not worked. A nerve block is a drug that is injected into or around a nerve to temporarily prevent the nerve from telling your brain about the pain. In some cases, deadening the nerve may not only reduce the pain but also lower the amount of medicine you need.
  • Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS). This uses a mild electrical current from a power pack to relieve pain.
  • Physical treatments, such as physical therapy, heat or cold, and braces or splints.

Exercise can help reduce pain and fatigue. It can also prevent muscle spasms and stiffness in your joints. But be sure to talk to your doctor before increasing your level of physical activity.

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Being physically active also can help with your emotional and mental health. It can be hard to be active when you don't feel well. But if you are able, going for a walk or going swimming may help you feel better, especially during cancer treatment.

Short-term crisis counseling or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may help you manage cancer pain or the discomfort from cancer treatments. Counseling may also help your partner or family members.

Complementary therapy

People sometimes use complementary therapies along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Some of the complementary therapies that may be helpful include:

These mind-body treatments may help you feel better. They can make it easier to cope with treatment. They also may reduce chronic low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and pain from treatments.

Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 22, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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