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Cancer: Home Treatment for Pain

Overview

Home treatment may help to reduce cancer pain and improve your physical and mental well-being. Talk to your doctor about any home treatment you may use.

Heat and cold.

Heat and cold treatments can help with mild to moderate pain from cancer. Talk to your doctor before trying either heat or cold during chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Gentle massage.

Simple touch or gentle massage may help reduce pain and ease tension. Avoid massage in any areas where you have visible tumors, open wounds, skin that is tender from radiation, or a blood clot in a vein.

Distraction.

Distraction can help you focus your attention on something other than pain. This may make the pain easier to handle.

Physical activity.

Physical activity can help reduce pain and fatigue. It can also can help with your emotional and mental health. Talk to your doctor before you increase your level of activity.

Medicines

Many different medicines are used to treat cancer pain. Over-the-counter medicines may relieve your pain at times. But you may need stronger medicines that your doctor prescribes. These may be used alone or with other medicines.

Over-the-counter pain relievers.

These include:

Talk with your doctor before you take these medicines. Don't take more than the label says unless your doctor tells you to.

Prescription medicines.

These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines and steroid medicines.
  • Medicines to treat bone pain.
  • Opioid pain relievers.
  • Antidepressants. They can relieve pain and help you sleep.
  • Certain seizure medicines. They help control nerve pain.

These medicines may be stronger or work differently than over-the-counter medicines. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions when you take these medicines.

Some may work better than others. It depends on the type of pain you have.

Other treatments

Some people use other treatments along with medical treatment to relieve symptoms and help them cope with cancer pain.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or short-term crisis counseling may help you manage cancer pain or the discomfort from cancer treatments. Counseling may also help your family.

Complementary medicine is the term for a wide range of practices that may be used along with pain medicine or other treatments. It includes:

Meditation.

This usually involves slow, regular breathing and sitting quietly for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Acupuncture.

Very thin needles are inserted into the skin at certain points on the body.

Biofeedback.

This method uses the mind to help control a body function that the body normally controls on its own. These functions include muscle tension and blood pressure.

Before you try a complementary treatment, talk to your doctor. These treatments aren't meant to take the place of standard medical treatment.

Credits

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Jimmy Ruiz MD - Hematology, Oncology

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