12 Aug Why Cancer Pain Can Be So Difficult to Manage
We treat patients dealing with all types of pain. That makes sense, given the name of our clinic. But among the many types of pain our patients experience, one of the most difficult to manage is cancer pain. We do our absolute best for each and every patient, offering the most appropriate treatments combined with genuine compassion and a desire to improve their well-being.
What makes cancer pain so challenging? Its many causes. The disease itself can cause pain as cancer grows and spreads. Damaged tissue is painful tissue. But in addition, treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can cause additional pain. Trying to alleviate pain related to treatments is a tricky proposition.
Pain Threshold Makes a Difference
Managing all types of pain is influenced by a patient’s individual pain threshold. Cancer pain is no different. From a medical standpoint, pain threshold is defined as the point at which an uncomfortable experience is defined by a patient as being painful. Pain threshold is not the same thing as pain tolerance.
Pain tolerance is a subjective measure of the amount of pain you can accept before it becomes bothersome. Some people can tolerate more pain than others. In a cancer scenario, however, both pain threshold and pain tolerance can be modified by the mental and emotional stress of the disease itself.
Cancer Type Makes a Difference
Another challenge in managing cancer pain is the type of cancer a person is dealing with. Some forms of cancer cause more pain than others. In addition, two people with the same type of cancer might experience different levels of pain based on their respective stages.
When we are looking at something like osteoarthritis, there is less variation between patients. Osteoarthritis pain is the result of bones grinding on one another due to a loss of cartilage between them. Pain threshold and tolerance might vary between patients, but the root causes of the pain – and ways to relieve it – are pretty consistent.
That is not the way it is with cancer. The dreaded disease takes many forms. Not only that, but each individual form can also affect patients differently. The end result is that their pain experiences can also be drastically different.
Treating Pain with Comorbidities
It is not unusual for cancer patients to be living with other conditions as well. We call these comorbidities. In such situations, treating cancer pain can be even more challenging. For example, consider a cancer patient who also has degenerative disc disease.
The patient may have been experiencing back pain long before their cancer diagnosis. But now with cancer part of the picture, the back pain is exacerbated. Relieving both the patient’s back and cancer pain can be challenging.
Pain Management Is Possible
Despite the challenging nature of managing cancer pain, we want to encourage you that successful pain management is possible. Here at Lone Star Pain Medicine, our number one priority is to help improve function and well-being so that our patients can enjoy the highest possible quality of life. That priority doesn’t change for cancer patients.
The types of treatments we could recommend to you would be highly dependent on the type of cancer you have, how you are experiencing the pain, and any existing comorbidities. Our treatments cover everything from injection therapies to stimulator and pump implants.
If you or someone you love is dealing with cancer pain for which little relief has been found, we want to help. Contact Lone Star Pain Medicine as soon as you are ready. Our Weatherford clinic is conveniently located and staffed by caring and compassionate professionals.