Non-pharmacological Management Of Cancer Pain


Some people who have cancer experience pain. The pain may be short-term or long-term. It may come and go. Pain management is an important part of cancer care.


Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or pain specialist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Rest: Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

  • Rehabilitation: This may include physical and occupational therapy. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

  • Sports and exercise: Ask your primary healthcare provider or pain specialist about the best sports or exercise plan for you. Exercise, sports, and activity may help increase your strength and control chronic pain.


  • Keep a pain diary: A pain diary may help track pain cycles so you know when and how your pain starts and ends. Include things that make your pain worse or better. Bring the pain diary to follow-up visits with your primary healthcare provider or pain specialist.

  • Prevent bed sores: You may need an egg crate or air mattress on your bed to help prevent bed sores. If you cannot move by yourself, someone will need to turn you from side to side often.

Other ways to manage cancer pain:

The following may be used in addition to your pain medicine:

  • Aromatherapy: This is a way of using scents to relax, relieve stress, and decrease pain. Aromatherapy uses oils, extracts, or fragrances from flowers, herbs, and trees. They may be inhaled or used during massages, facials, body wraps, and baths.

  • Biofeedback: This teaches your body to respond differently to the stress of being in pain. Caregivers may use a biofeedback machine to help you know when your body is relaxed.

  • Meditation: This therapy teaches you how to focus inside yourself. The goal of meditation is to help you feel more calm and peaceful.

  • Hypnosis: A caregiver will put you in a trancelike state and then suggest things that may help you manage pain.

  • Dietary supplements: Vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other plants may be given to ease cancer pain.

  • Acupuncture: This therapy uses very thin needles to balance energy channels in the body. This is thought to help reduce symptoms like pain.

For support and more information:

  • National Cancer Institute
    6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
    Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
    Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
    Web Address:

Contact your primary healthcare provider or pain specialist if:

  • Your pain does not get better, or you have new pain.

  • You still feel anxious or irritable after your therapy.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You feel so depressed that you cannot cope with your disease.

  • You have problems thinking clearly.

  • You have severe chest pain and trouble breathing all of a sudden.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.