How to manage pain and discomfort
Pain – Ongoing pain following surgery or cancer treatment may lead to distress, low mood, fatigue or reduced appetite. These can all affect your quality of life. Speak to your doctor about pain management options.
Your physiotherapist may also give you advice on positioning for comfort, suggest exercises, or recommend other pain relief options such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). For more information, call 13 11 20, download a booklet from this page, or see Overcoming Cancer Pain.
Stiff neck and shoulder – If you have lymph nodes removed or radiation therapy, you may have stiffness and numbness in your neck, and pain in your shoulder. This may restrict neck movement and make lifting the arm difficult. Nerve damage usually heals within 12 months, and sensation should return for many people. In some cases, these issues can be permanent.
A physiotherapist can help reduce pain and improve posture, movement and function. Your physiotherapist may also suggest using a postural brace for shoulder support. Some gentle regular exercise will help maintain neck, jaw and shoulder range of motion.
Reduced mouth opening – Not being able to fully open the mouth or jaw is known as trismus. It can occur after radiation therapy, and can affect eating, speech and oral hygiene. Trismus can be temporary or permanent. A speech pathologist or physiotherapist can help improve motion, and you can have medicines to reduce pain.
Fatigue, or feeling exhausted and lacking energy for daily activities, is a common physical side effect of cancer treatment. Fatigue can continue for months or, in some cases, years after treatment ends. Call 13 11 20, or ask your GP or occupational therapist for suggestions on how to manage and reduce fatigue.
Fatigue, or feeling exhausted and lacking energy for daily activities, is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Fatigue can continue for months or, in some cases, years after treatment ends. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or ask your GP or occupational therapist for suggestions on how to manage fatigue.
Listen to a podcast on Managing Cancer Fatigue