There are many things you can do at home to reduce your cancer pain, manage side effects, and feel better in your mind and body. Follow your doctor's advice. Talk to your doctor about any home treatment you want to try.
You may find that drugs you can buy without a prescription are enough to ease your pain at times. Reference Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, relieves pain. Reference Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, relieve pain and also decrease swelling. Be sure you know Reference how to safely use these drugs. Talk with your doctor before taking these medicines, especially if you have had kidney or liver disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, or a stomach ulcer. And don't take more than the label says, unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Some pain medicines may cause problems like nausea, sleepiness, and constipation. Nausea and sleepiness usually go away in the first couple of days, but constipation may be an ongoing problem. To help manage these side effects at home, the following may help:
- Reference Home treatment for fatigue: You can choose the most important things you want to do if you feel a tiredness that doesn't go away with rest or sleep. For example, if taking a shower is a priority and mornings are when you have the most energy, plan to take your shower at that time.
- Reference Home treatment for nausea: Drink fluids to stay hydrated. Eating smaller meals may help. A little bit of ginger candy or ginger tea can help too.
- Reference Home treatment for constipation: Follow your doctor's orders to prevent getting constipated. And check with your doctor about whether exercise might help.
- Sleepiness. Don't walk up or down stairs alone. Wait until you feel more alert before driving or using machines or other tasks where you need to pay attention. If you can't stay awake at all or the sleepiness lasts for more than a week, talk to your doctor.
- Reference Home treatment for mouth sores: Keep your mouth and teeth clean. Rinsing out your mouth will help, but use a mouthwash without alcohol. Your doctor can prescribe a mouthwash for mouth pain.
Other home treatments for pain include:
- Reference Heat or cold therapy to relieve muscle aches and pains.
- Stretching, Reference yoga, and exercises to help you keep your strength, flexibility, and mobility.
- Mind-body treatments, such as Reference relaxation, Reference biofeedback, Reference meditation, or Reference guided imagery.
- Reference Healing touch and light Reference massage.
- Reference Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) Opens New Window with a trained counselor to reduce your response to pain.
Handling the stress of having cancer
Having cancer can be very stressful, and it may feel overwhelming to face the challenges of cancer. Finding Reference new ways of coping with the symptoms of stress may improve your overall quality of life. These ideas may help:
- Get the support you need. Spend time with people who care about you, and let them help you.
- Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, and eat nourishing foods.
- Talk about your feelings. Find a support group where you can share your experience.
- Stay positive. Do things each day that will help you stay calm and relaxed.
It is not unusual for people who have cancer to become depressed. If you are feeling depressed, talk with your doctor. Depression can make your cancer pain harder to treat. And treating your depression will help you with managing your pain.
Emotional support is important when you are dealing with cancer pain. If you feel like you need help, talk with your doctor. He or she can refer you to the social services department of your local cancer treatment center or hospital.
Learning all you can about your condition and treatments for pain can help you understand your options. It can also help you when you talk with your doctor about your pain management plan.
For more information about managing cancer pain, read "Pain Control: Support for People With Cancer" from the National Cancer Institute. This booklet is available online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/paincontrol.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology