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Managing Chemotherapy-Related Pain

Modern medicine offers powerful options for overcoming cancer, which is great news for individuals who suffer from curable varieties of this terrible disease. Unfortunately, not every treatment is without side effects. Chemotherapy, which is often used to kill cancer and save lives, can cause suffering of its own. Here’s what you need to know about chemotherapy-related pain and what you can do about it.

What Causes Chemotherapy-Related Pain?

Nausea and vomiting are well-known side effects of chemotherapy, but they aren’t the only issues that this type of treatment can cause. Some individuals undergoing chemo also suffer from mouth sores, muscle pain and headaches. Others suffer from burning, tingling, numbness or shooting pain that seems to come out of nowhere. These latter issues are symptoms of something called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), which can affect cancer patients of all ages and backgrounds.

CIPN happens when the medications used in chemotherapy cause damage to peripheral nerves, which are nerves located away from the brain or spinal cord. Once damaged, these nerves send signals to the brain that can cause the burning, tingling and numbness that often accompanies this condition. The most common symptoms of CIPN include:

  • tingling or electric shock-like pains
  • unexplained burning sensations
  • sharp or shooting pains
  • a loss of feeling in one or more areas
  • difficulty balancing or walking
  • difficulty picking objects up with your hands
  • trouble swallowing
  • decreased or absent reflexes

The symptoms of CIPN usually begin in either the feet or hands and travel up the limbs from there.

Managing & Overcoming Chemo Pain

If you think that you might be suffering from CIPN, it’s essential to talk to your doctor right away. A medical professional will need to rule out other complications or conditions that could be causing your symptoms. Once your doctor has determined what’s causing your pain, you’ll be able to work with a pain care professional to bring it under control.

Many different types of treatment can be used to help manage chemotherapy-induced pain. Some of the most common include:

  1. numbing creams or patches
  2. anti-seizure medications
  3. anti-depressants
  4. physical therapy
  5. electronic nerve stimulation
  6. acupuncture
  7. counseling

Opioids and other painkillers may also be used in cases of severe pain.

Is it time to talk to a pain management professional? Whether you live in Austin, Killeen, Waco or the surrounding communities, Advanced Pain Care is here to help. Contact us to discuss your concerns and make an appointment with our compassionate doctors.