Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning You Have Cancer: Pain

Even though almost everyone worries about pain, it may not be a problem for you. Some people don't have any pain. Others have it only once in a while and others have post treatment pain or neuralgias. Cancer pain can almost always be relieved. If you're in pain, your doctor can suggest ways to help you feel better. These include:
  • prescription or over-the-counter medicines
  • cold packs or heating pads
  • relaxation, like getting a massage or listening to soothing music
  • imagery, such as thinking about a place where you feel happy and calm
  • distraction, like watching a movie, working on a hobby, or anything that helps take your mind off your pain
There are many ways to control pain. Your doctor wants and needs to hear about your pain. As soon as you have pain you should speak up. Dealing with your pain can also help you deal with the feelings discussed in this section.
When you describe your pain to your health care providers, tell them:
  • where you feel pain
  • what it feels like (sharp, dull, throbbing, steady)
  • how strong the pain feels
  • how long it lasts
  • what eases the pain and what makes it worse
  • what medicines you are taking for the pain and how much they help

If you conceal your disease, you cannot expect to be cured.
--Ethiopian Proverb

Pain Scales and Pain Journals

Pain scales or pain journals are tools that you can use to describe how much pain you feel. These tools can also help your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist find ways to treat your pain.
You are the only person who can talk about the pain you feel. When it comes to pain, there is no right or wrong answer. 

On many pain scales, you are asked to rate your pain as a number from 0 to 10. For example, you would rate your pain as "0" if you feel no pain at all. You would rate your pain as "10" if it is the worst pain you have ever felt in your life. You can pick any number between 0 and 10 to describe your pain.

When you use a pain scale, be sure to include the range. For example, you might say, "Today my pain is a 7 on a scale from 0 to 10."

A pain journal or diary is another tool you can use to describe your pain. With a journal or diary, you not only use a pain scale but also write down what you think causes your pain and what helps you feel better.

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