The thought of being in pain is a concern for many people. In reality some people may have little or no pain. Everyone’s experience of pain is different, but nearly all cancer pain can be controlled effectively. If you are concerned about pain, talk with your specialist team as we know fear and anxiety can make pain worse and talking about any concerns may help. Pain can be described in different ways and you may have more than one type of pain. Your doctors will need you to describe your pain in order to find the best way of treating it.
- how bad the pain is on a scale of 0 to 10
- how often the pain occurs, how long it lasts and when it is better or worse
- where the pain is, whether it is in one place, several or spreads to other areas
- what type of pain it is, for example a stabbing, nagging or burning sensation
- what makes it worse or better and what has relieved the pain in the past.
There are a number of very effective pain medications available to treat pain. They can be used on their own, with other pain relieving drugs or with other treatments. The aim is to ensure that you are pain-free at all times. This may mean taking the drugs regularly, even if you are not in a great deal of pain.
Don’t wait until the pain gets worse as it can then be more difficult to control. When choosing the right pain relief for you, your doctor will probably use a three-step approach to pain control. Starting with mild pain relief, progressing to moderate and then strong, often opiate/morphine-based pain relief. People are often frightened of taking strong pain relief because they think they will become addicted or they will build up a tolerance to it so that it won’t be effective later on. Some also think it means their cancer is getting worse.
In fact, opiate/morphine-based pain relief is very good for controlling cancer pain and is used when other pain relief hasn’t been effective. Opiate/morphine is used at many different stages of the disease and doesn’t necessarily mean that the cancer is getting worse or that you will need to take it forever. It controls pain by responding to a physical reaction in the body, and used in this way it does not cause addiction.
Sometimes your doctor or specialist nurse may recommend a short stay in either hospital or a hospice where specialists in pain control can work with you to find the right combination of effective pain relief for you.Source