The medical world is still researching the exact cause of phantom limb pain. This pain occurs when you have a body part removed, but you still feel discomfort in that area. Mastectomies and limb removal procedures often precede phantom limb pain. Speak to your doctor about this pain if it does occur. Currently, medical professionals use a mixture of different treatment options to ward off this frustrating pain.
You might have physical therapy and medications added to your treatment, for example. Some doctors even incorporate nerve therapy into pain management for phantom limbs. It’s important to remember that any pain you feel is real, and it should be brought up with a doctor. Your caregiver can use that information to further your treatment.Show Less
When you sleep, your body focuses on healing itself. Although sleep doesn’t heal your illness, rest does ward off some of your daily pain. However, you might deal with insomnia caused by diagnosis stress. As a result, you feel more pain as insomnia continues. Ideally, add any restless nights to your pain diary, so that your doctor can treat you appropriately. They may have some solutions to help you rest soundly.Show Less
Pain isn’t directly caused by mental anguish, but it can be exasperated by it. It’s understandable if you’re worried or anxious about your prognosis. Dealing with mortality on a personal level is a serious subject. You might feel mad, scared, alone, and hopeless all at one time. All of these conflicting emotions can make your pain seem worse than it really is. When you feel overwhelmed by your predicament, talking about it is the first step toward some mental relief.
Choose a trusted family member or friend to talk to or consult with a mental health professional. No patient can face every challenge alone.
Additional Support for Cancer Patients:
Speak to your doctor about finding a mental health professional who specializes in cancer patients. In some cases, you might need a one-on-one meeting with a professional to dive deeper into your problems. Psychiatrists are there to listen and offer support whenever necessary. In fact, you can find pain relief within these sessions just by discussing your feelings. The professional may find it necessary to prescribe antidepressants to help you deal with a cancer diagnosis.
It’s even possible for your doctor and mental health professional to work together for your overall pain relief. When your mind and body are treated with the proper medications, you’ll perceive less pain as a result. Regularly update your doctor about your psychiatric sessions, so that your treatment progresses at a steady pace. With mental relief comes acceptance of your situation and possible hope for remission.Show Less
Cancer is a widespread disease that can affect nearly any part of the body. You might know people who seem perfectly healthy, but they’re currently fighting a cancer diagnosis. These individuals may be in mild, moderate, or severe pain because cancer affects everyone differently. A tumor might grow large and press against organs, for example. Nerve and blood vessel pain are common because of multiple cancerous tumors growing throughout the body. When a patient has metastasized, cancer can even clog blood vessels. In addition, pain levels are often defined by the cancer stage. A terminal patient in stage 4 breast cancer will usually be in more pain than a stage 1 patient.
Your pain doesn’t have to be directly caused by cancer itself, either. Strong treatments, from biopsies to chemotherapy, create painful conditions for your body as it heals afterward. In these cases, your pain relief might be a slow process because the body is trying to fight cancer and recover from a stressful surgery simultaneously. Pain can also be related to your psychological health. Worries over the disease and other concerns can easily create headaches and body aches.Show Less
You might notice at times that you are in more pain than usual (such as at the end of a tiring day or as a result of certain activities). If you notice that certain activities contribute to your pain or that you feel worse at certain times of the day, medication can be taken prior to the activity (or time of day) to help prevent the pain from occurring. Always be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.Show Less
Tell your doctor which activities you’ve had to adjust, and which ones you now avoid entirely because of your pain. Just as important as the level of pain you feel is the impact it has on your life.
Examples of life changes:
• Skipping a morning jog because of the pain;
• Missing work;
• Avoiding social contacts.Show Less
Explain the intensity of your pain to your doctor. That’s where the pain scale comes in. Your doctor will ask you to “rate” your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 – where 0 is pain-free and 10 is unimaginable pain. The doctor can use the score to help determine the amount and type of pain medicine you need.Show Less
Describe exactly where it hurts. Also, tell your doctor if the pain is changing or not.
Here are some examples:
• Deep in your shoulder joint or in the muscles near the surface.
• Under the kneecap or in the back of the knee.
• The outside of your hip or in your groin.
• Is the pain in only one spot, or does it travel?
• Does the pain remain steady, come and go, or only flare up when you move in a certain way?Show Less
Be as specific as possible about how your pain feels to help your doctor figure out what’s wrong.
Here are a few words you can use to describe the way your pain feels, and how your doctor might interpret them:
• Aching, dull: muscle strains, arthritis pain;
• Shooting, electric, tingling, burning, pins-and-needles: nerve pain;
• Sharp, stabbing: injuries such as a broken bone, muscle or ligament tear, or penetrating wound;
• Throbbing: headache, abscess, gout;
• Tightness: muscle spasm.Show Less
Just as there are different types of arthritis, there are also different types of pain. The arthritis pain you experience can come from various areas of the musculoskeletal system, and your brain can process this information in different ways. Here are the main mechanisms of pain.
This is the normal mechanism that the body uses to process pain. Nociceptive pain occurs when tiny nerves (nociceptors) that run on the surface of organs, muscles, joints, and throughout the body are stimulated. These messages are carried by nerves to the brain. For example, when you bang your elbow, you feel nociceptive pain.
Nociceptive pain that happens with stretch or pressure in and around joints is called mechanical pain. Osteoarthritis, low back disorders, and tendinitis are common examples of mechanical pain.
Inflammation is an essential process that helps the body respond to and heal an injury. But it also activates nerves and causes nociceptive pain. When joints are inflamed, damage to bone, muscles, and cartilage (the slick surface between bones of the joints) can occur. Examples of inflammatory arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Neuropathic pain happens when there’s too much or persistent pressure on nerves, or they are damaged. It’s often described as burning, tingling, shooting, stinging, or as “pins and needles.” Some people may describe a stabbing, piercing, cutting, or drilling pain. An example of this type of pain is sciatic pain due to irritation of the sciatic nerve by a disc or bone spur. This pain starts at an area of the spine in the lower back and can run across the hip and buttock and down the leg.
Centralized pain was first used to describe pain caused by a damaged central nervous system (brain, brain stem, spinal cord). It is now used to describe any pain that happens when the central nervous system doesn’t work properly and amplifies or increases the volume of pain. Other terms used to describe this condition include “central sensitization,” “central amplification” and “central pain syndrome.” Several common conditions, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorder are some examples. Long-lasting arthritis joint pain can also become centralized.
Psychogenic pain is an older term for what happens when emotions cause pain in the body, make existing pain worse, or make it last longer. As doctors learn more about how the central nervous system works, fewer types of pain are put in this category. For example, fibromyalgia was once considered psychogenic, but new discoveries have shown problems with pain processing in fibromyalgia. Headache, muscle pain, and low back pain can also be influenced by emotions.Show Less