What is pain management?
Pain management is a branch of medicine focused on reducing pain and improving quality of life through an integrative approach to care. Pain management is particularly important for cancer patients, considering one in three patients continues to experience pain after treatment.
If you have pain, the severity and prevalence of your pain may depend on many factors, including the type and stage of your cancer, your treatment plan and your tolerance for pain. You may experience pain from the cancer itself, or as a side effect of cancer treatment. Those with advanced cancer are most likely to have severe pain. Cancer pain may result from:
- A tumor putting pressure on tissues, bones, nerves or organs
- Poor blood circulation because the cancer has blocked blood vessels
- Blockage of an organ or tube in the body, such as the kidneys or bladder
- Side effects of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other cancer treatments
- Metastasis, or cancer cells that have spread to other locations in the body
- Pain that is completely independent from cancer or cancer treatment (e.g., headaches, backaches, muscle strains, arthritis or other common pains)
Pain management may improve quality of life at any stage of cancer, so managing your pain is our priority. Our experienced pain management team cares for you throughout your treatment, to help reduce your pain and help you get comfortable. We use a variety of modalities to treat and control pain, including:
- Prescription medications
- Implanted pain pumps
- Nerve block therapies
- Physical therapy
- Acupuncture and auriculotherapy
- Massage therapy
- Relaxation techniques and guided imagery
- Chiropractic treatmen
Experienced care team
The team approach to care is critical for pain management. Our team of pain management providers work with your oncologist and other members of your care team to manage your pain related to cancer or its treatment. In addition to medication, your pain management regimen may include one or more of our supportive care services, such as:
- Naturopathic medicine, which uses natural therapies to help you combat pain, as well as reduce the hormonal side effects that may accompany cancer treatment
- Oncology rehabilitation, which plays a key role in pain management by using a variety of physical therapy and other techniques to improve mobility and trigger the release of endorphins, which is the body’s natural defense against pain
- The mind-body medicine team, which is available to teach you relaxation tools to help you manage pain, and to reduce the anxiety and fatigue related to cancer or its treatment
For patients staying at the hospital, the pain management team is available for referrals. During these visits, pain management practitioners thoroughly evaluate your pain level and assess how your pain management approach is working. Based on their evaluation, these clinicians will make modifications to your treatment plan as needed.
Personalized treatment approach
The pain symptoms you experience are unique to you, which is why we tailor your pain management plan to your individual case. Pain itself may be dull, achy or sharp. It may occur frequently or once in a while, and it may be mild, moderate or severe. The pain you experience may depend on your cancer type and stage, how much the cancer has spread, and how sensitive you are to pain (your pain tolerance). Whatever type of pain you experience, we want to treat it early to prevent it from worsening.
Managing side effects
Some prescription medicines used to treat pain have side effects, including nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation and drowsiness. Your doctor may change the dosage, the time the medicine is taken or the medicine itself to see if you experience fewer side effects. In addition, our supportive care practitioners will work together to help you manage side effects that you experience with pain management. We offer nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, mind-body medicine and other services.