- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Pain and cancer
- Other ways to control pain
- Allied health services
Allied health services
Allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, psychologists and exercise physiologists, support the work of doctors and nurses. Practitioners are usually part of your hospital multidisciplinary team (MDT), or your GP can refer you to private practitioners. They can teach you techniques for managing your physical activity, thoughts and emotions to help improve your pain management.
- Exercise techniques
- Specialised physiotherapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Talk therapies
- Distraction techniques
A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can develop a program to improve muscle strength and increase the ability to function, which may help relieve pain.
This can help reprogram the brain (e.g. to manage phantom limb pain after an amputation).
TENS delivers electrical pulses to the skin to change nerve activity and relieve pain. Many physiotherapists offer this treatment.
Psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can help people understand how their thoughts and emotions can influence how they respond to pain. This can help them build new coping skills and resume normal activity as much as possible.
This psychological technique involves focusing on the pain and relaxing at the same time; it is used for neuropathic pain (e.g. numbness or tingling).
This psychological technique helps people relax and become more aware of their inner thoughts. It has been clinically tested with good results for helping people cope with pain.
These help people temporarily focus on something other than the pain, e.g. by counting, drawing, reading.
This information has been developed by Cancer Council NSW on behalf of all other state and territory Cancer Councils as part of a National Cancer Information Working Group initiative. We thank the reviewers of this information: Dr Tim Hucker, Clinical Lead, Pain Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Lecturer, Monash University, VIC; Carole Arbuckle, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Anne Burke, Co-Director, Psychology, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, SA, and President Elect, The Australian Pain Society; Kathryn Collins, Co-Director, Psychology, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; A/Prof Roger Goucke, Head, Department of Pain Management, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Director, WA Statewide Pain Service, and Clinical A/Prof, The University of Western Australia, WA; Chris Hayward, Consumer; Prof Melanie Lovell, Senior Staff Specialist, Palliative Care, HammondCare Centre for Learning and Research, Clinical A/Prof, Sydney Medical School, and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, NSW; Linda Magann, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Palliative Care and Peritonectomy Palliative Care, St George Hospital, NSW; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist, Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport, QLD.
Thank you to the Australian Adult Cancer Pain Management Guideline Working Party, Improving Palliative Care through Clinical Trials (ImPaCCT), and the Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care (University of Technology Sydney), whose work contributed to the development of the previous editions of this booklet. Thank you also to the original writers, Dr Melanie Lovell and Prof Frances Boyle AM.
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