Overcoming Cancer PainDownload this book (pdf, 665.51 kb)
For some people, pain can be relieved without medication or hospital treatments. They may benefit from services offered by allied health professionals or complementary therapists.
Allied health care
There are many types of allied health care that support the work of doctors and nurses. Practitioners are usually part of your multidisciplinary health care team at the hospital, or your GP can refer you to private practitioners as part of an enhanced primary care (EPC) plan.
- physiotherapist - can teach you the best ways to sit and lie to relieve pressure, improve circulation and reduce swelling
- counsellor - can help you work through any anxieties, and can give you strategies to cope with depression, which may be contributing to pain
- dietitian - can advise you on dietary changes to address pain caused by eating or digestive problems.
Complementary therapies may boost your well-being and help you to cope better with pain and other side effects caused by cancer and its treatment. They may increase your sense of control, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve your mood.
There are many types of complementary therapies that may help you manage your pain. Some therapies require you to have a consultation with a professional therapist. Others, such as meditation or yoga, can be done at home using CDs or DVDs. You can also seek some professional guidance to learn these techniques safely and within your limits.
- Relaxation - relieves pain or keeps it from getting worse by reducing tension in the muscles.
- Meditation - focuses on breathing techniques and quietening the mind.
- Massage - may relieve muscle spasms and contractions.
- Acupuncture - thin needles are inserted at points in specific parts of the body to control pain sensations.
- TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) - a mild electric current is applied to the skin where the pain occurs. The current produces a pleasant sensation and relieves some types of pain.
Let your doctor know about any complementary therapies you are using or thinking about trying. This is important, as some therapies may not be appropriate depending on your conventional treatment. Massage and exercise therapies may also need to be modified to accommodate the changes in your body.