What is Pain:
Pain is a sign that something in your body is wrong, when there is damage to your body, your nervous system sends a message to your brain, when your brain gets these messages you feel pain.
What Pain Means:
Having a lot of pain can be frightening and very scary because it makes you think that your cancer might be growing or getting worse, but most of the time this is not the case. It could just be side-effect of the cancer treatments you have received. Pain after having a big treatment can last months or sometimes even years because it is your nervous system trying to fix and repair the damage that was done to your nerves. This can then send pain signals to your brain causing pain. You also need to keep in mind your pain may not be due to your cancer or cancer treatments but to ordinary things like constipation, digestion issues or headaches.
What are the causes with pain-
- Cancer in any part of the body, such as tumoor pressing on nerves or soft tissue
- Side effects of treatment, like muscle or joint pain or a sore mouth following chemo.
- Side effects of radiation therapy, such as skin irritation
- Bone fracture
- Pain after surgery or medical procedure
- Difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety or depression
Some ways to manage pain–
- Work with your health care provider to devise a an individual pain management plan
- Check if your hospital has a pain management clinic. If services such as physiotherapy acupunture and nerve blocking may be available.
- For some, chemotherapy and/or radiation can relieve pain.
Self management techniques-
- Learning to relax through relaxation techniques such as muscle relaxation and meditation
- Guided imagery- a technique used to bring relaxing imagery to mind
- Distraction – distract yourself by reading your favourite book, watching tv or going for a walk.
- Resting and getting good quality sleep
Getting help with dealing with your pain:
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help when dealing with pain, as the sooner you get some treatment for your pain, the easier it will be to control. Some people fear that they could get addicted to pain killers from all the times they have to take them but it is important to remember that this is very rare and it is important to manage your pain. If you get any side-effects from the pain killers do notify your doctor straight away. You can also make a list/take notes about your pain so that when you tell your doctor, you will know exactly what to say. For example writing down where you feel it, what it feels like, how often it occurs, how it comes on and how you usually relieve it.
Resources for coping with chronic pain:
Dealing with pain on a daily basis can be exhausting and isolating. Sometimes it helps to speak to someone who will understand. You can find counselling services as well as cancer support centres all over the country that will provide that service.
- Click here to read a short leaflet on what chronic pain is and how to identify it.
- Read Beaumount Hospitals booklet on pain management for lots of helpful coping mechanisms, strategies to manage pain and other helpful outlets
- Chronic Pain Ireland is an organisation dedicated to making life with chronic pain easier. Visit the Chronic Pain Ireland website for more information.
- Arthritis Ireland have released a booklet outlining how to cope with pain, how to manage it and how to make steps forward. Read the full version here.
- Visit the Irish Pain Society website for more information on chronic pain and how to cope with it.