Cancer Pain Treatment in Seattle and Federal Way
Most people with cancer have some type of pain. The pain can occur due to the cancer itself, or discomfort can be related to the treatment. Many people who are cured from the cancer continue to have chronic pain.
Symptoms associated with cancer pain vary from patient to patient. The extent of the pain depends on the type of cancer, the patient’s pain tolerance (threshold), and the stage of the disease.
Types of Pain linked to Cancer
There are two kinds of pain associated with cancer:
- Neuropathic pain – When nerves are inflamed, damaged, or pressed, neuropathic pain occurs. This is described as a stabbing, burning, shooting, or electric-shock sensation.
- Nociceptive pain – Caused by pressure, stretching, or injury to tissues, muscles, and/or organs, this pain is described as an aching sensation. Pain of this nature is often perceived deep inside the body.
Facts about Cancer Pain
Around 35% of people with cancer describe pain when diagnosed, and approximately 75% of people with cancer have pain. Cancer pain is a complex sensation that reflects damage to the body, as well as the body’s response to this damage.
Medications for Mild to Moderate Pain
For minor discomfort, the Seattle pain management specialist may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs can be purchased over-the-counter, but some are prescription-only, such as ketoprofen and Clinoril.
Medications for Moderate to Severe Pain
For more severe pain, opioid pain relievers are used. These drugs include morphine (MS contin, Oromorph, Kadian), hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin, Norco), and oxycodone (Roxicodone OxyContin). These drugs are habit-forming, so they are usually prescribed short-term.
Long-acting opioids are used for severe pain because they provide hours of pain relief when taken as prescribed. Fast-acting opioid analgesics are used for break-through pain relief. While opioids can be taken by mouth, severe pain is treated with intravenous infusion or by way of a pain pump.
Medications for Neuropathic Pain
For patients with chronic pain who also suffer with depression, antidepressants may be effective. These drugs work by altering brain neurotransmitters and pain perception. Examples include nortriptyline and amitriptyline. Anticonvulsants are beneficial for burning and tingling pain. These include gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Fanatrex) and carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, Equetro).
Top Seattle pain specialists customize prescription medications for cancer pain and include interventional procedures when appropriate.
Common Cancer Pain Problems
Cancer can cause many problems within the body that produce pain. Common cancer pain problems are:
- Skin reactions – Radiation can produce sensitivity of the skin, as well as painful reddened areas. These problems can be treated by wearing soft, cotton clothing, avoiding wetness, and keeping the skin clean.
- Mouth sores – Much like cold sores, these can be treated with moisture ointments, topical analgesics, and numbing mouthwashes.
Swelling of the arms and/or legs – Called lymphedema, this problem occurs after cancer surgery where lymph nodes are removed. Treatment involves massage by a physical therapist to decrease swelling. In addition, you should elevate the swollen extremity and wear prescribed pressure stockings and/or sleeves.