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

Linda H., 53
Signal Mountain, TN
I work full time, so managing fatigue is something I'm always focused on. Regular exercise is the key for me. I walk at least several days a week, go to a tai chi class twice a week, and do water aerobics on Saturdays with other cancer survivors. It not only helps fight fatigue, but it's also a great de-stresser.
Cindi M., 53
Lincoln, NE
I get monthly massage therapy to keep me feeling good. I've established a great relationship with my massage therapist, who's been with me for 6 years of the journey. She really knows my body and is good at working out the kinks and adjusting when pain has me over-accommodating on one side or another.
Jenny A., 50
Salt Lake City, UT
What I've learned is while you can't control what randomly happens in life, you can control how you respond. After treatment, I got involved in patient advocacy and started a foundation to support myeloma patients and research. The journey to be actively involved in helping others was my emotional therapy.
Dawn T., 58
Boca Raton, FL
I try to eat healthy. I start my day with organic oatmeal topped with walnuts, green tea, and a green smoothie with protein powder. I've learned my body needs a large green salad to counteract the constipation from my trial drugs. I generally stick with seafood, poultry, or beans for protein. I also drink tons of water.
Tom Z., 54
Red Bank, NJ
Get involved with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to be around other active and positive people with MM. Do yoga and meditation. Find something to be passionate about. Explore your creative side. I took up photography. Attitude is everything. Stay positive –– new treatments are being discovered yearly.
Pat C., 70
Fayetteville, GA
Don't feel guilty because you cannot do as much as you used to. Ask for help with things that leave you a bit exhausted. My friends did small things like let me out of the car right in front of the door. Support groups are important. Sharing your experience with others with the same disease is so helpful.
Carol M., 59
Vero Beach, FL
With good nutrition, whatever exercise you can manage, and an active social life, you can still lead a happy, productive life. I'm not saying it's easy because it's not. Quitting sugar, eating green, taking naps, getting massages, trying to lead a stress-free life, and keeping busy is exhausting. But it works.
Jim W., 51
Kansas City, MO
The first thing is to get a second opinion. This is, to me, the most important thing to do. Your doctor may only treat three or four myeloma patients a year. You want to go to a doctor who sees at least 50 myeloma patients a year or is part of a practice that sees 100 myeloma patients a year.
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!
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