Cancer pain is the pain which is caused by the tumour pressing the nerves, bones and other organs of the body. Sometimes, it is also related to the cancer treatments. For example; few chemotherapy drugs develops an itching or burning sensation in the hands or places where they are injected.
Cancer pain can be acute or chronic in nature. It develops into an acute pain when damage is caused by an injury. Acute pain only lasts for a short time. It goes when the injury heals.
Chronic pain is caused because of the changes to nerves. The changes to nerves occur due to cancer pressing the nerves or the chemical produced by the tumour. Chronic pain continues long after the treatment and that is why it is also known as persistent pain. But painkillers or some other pain control methods can control it.
The cancer pain may develop into breakthrough pain when the pain is not even controlled by medication. In the case of breakthrough pain, the doctors prescribe few top up doses of painkiller to take at the time of need.
The cancer pain which come on quickly (like while dressing change or moving around) is called incident pain.
Cancer pain can critically affect your life by making it tough for you to follow your daily routine; bathing, sleeping, eating, cooking etc.
It is very important for the doctors to find out the cause and type of cancer pain with which you are suffering, so that they can treat it accordingly. Different types of cancer pain needs different kind of treatments.
The cancer may spread to one specific area of bone or several regions where it damages the bone tissue and cause a pain like aching or throbbing, which is known as bone pain.
Sometimes, cancer damages the nerves by developing a pressure on the nerves or the spinal cord. The pain caused by damaging the nerves is called nerve pain or neuropathic pain. This pain develops a feeling of burning, itching or like something is crawling under the skin. It mainly occurs after cancer treatment like radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Nerves, which are cut during the surgery, take a very long time to heal as it grows slowly. That is the reason why some patients have a long term nerve pain after the surgery.
The pain caused to a part of the body which has been removed due to cancer is known as phantom pain. Ex – The pain in an arm or leg which has been removed due to sarcoma and osteosarcoma.
Though the experts are still trying to find out why phantom pain occurs. One possible theory is that the thinking part of the brain knows that a part of the body is removed, but the feeling part of the brain can’t understand this. Other possible reason can be the poor pain control at the time of surgery.
For most people it may go away within few months. But some people may experience the phantom pain for more than a year or even for the lifetime.
As it can be controlled by use of painkillers, it is very important to consult your doctor about the unbearable phantom pain in the body part which has been surgically removed.
The pain which is caused in the body organ or muscles is known as soft tissue pain. Generally, It occurs due to damage in the tissue due to cancer. The soft tissue pain can be described as aching, cramping, throbbing or sharp pain.
The pain felt in a part of the body instead of its real source is known as Referred pain. For example; a swollen liver may cause a pain in the right shoulder because the liver presses on the nerves that end in the shoulder.
It is very necessary to let your doctor know if you have any cancer pain. On avoiding the cancer pain, it can lead to make the pain tougher to control in future.
PLEASE NOTE THAT SOME PAIN WHICH MAY NOT BE LINKED WITH YOUR CANCER. YOU MAY HAVE A COMMON PAIN THAT EVERYONE GETS FROM TIME TO TIME.
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