Skip to Content

Non-pharmacological Management Of Cancer Pain, Ambulatory Care

Cancer pain

may be short-term or long-term. It may come and go. You may have pain if the tumor damages or blocks tissues, nerves, and blood vessels as it becomes larger. Some cancer cells may produce chemicals that cause pain. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery may cause pain. Pain management is an important part of cancer care.

Call 911 for the following:

  • Severe chest pain and sudden trouble breathing

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Feeling so depressed that you cannot cope
  • Problems thinking clearly

Non-phramacological therapies

are used in addition to medicine to decrease or control cancer pain. Talk to your healthcare provider about the right therapy for you.

  • Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat to the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
  • Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
  • Rehabilitation 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.
  • Electrical stimulation uses a device that sends mild and safe electrical signals. These signals decrease your pain when used over a painful body part.
  • Surgery and other procedures, such as ultrasound, radio waves, thermal (heat), or laser therapy may help relieve your pain. Surgery may include cutting nerves or repairing joints that are the cause of your chronic pain.

Manage your pain:

  • Aromatherapy 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 teaches your body to respond differently to the stress of being in pain. Healthcare providers 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 is used to put you in a trancelike state and then suggest things that may help you manage pain.
  • Dietary supplements to ease cancer pain include vitamins, minerals, or herbs. Do not take any vitamins or supplements unless your healthcare provider says it is okay.
  • Acupuncture therapy uses very thin needles to balance energy channels in the body.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.