When someone is diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening illness, one of the first things they are likely to worry about is pain. In fact, it's just about the most common question patients and their caregivers ask. There are effective treatments for pain, and you can put those treatment plans in place ahead of time. It's also important to know that medications are not the only option available to treat pain in the context of palliative care. For example, radiation therapy can sometimes be helpful in treating pain from tumor growth and in easing bone pain related to cancer.
Non-Drug Options for Easing Pain: There are a number of non-drug tools for coping with pain. They can be used on their own or in combination with drug therapies.
Some of the options patients have found helpful include:
- Massage. A lot of people find relief from gentle massage, and some hospice agencies have volunteers who are trained in massage therapy. Several studies have found that massage is effective in relieving pain and other symptoms for people with serious illness.
- Relaxation techniques. Guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, breathing techniques, and gentle movement such as tai chi. Relaxation techniques are often very effective, particularly when a patient -- or a caregiver -- is feeling anxious.
- Acupuncture. Several studies have found that acupuncture can be helpful in relieving pain for people with serious illnesses such as cancer.
- Physical therapy. If a person has been active before and is now confined to bed, even just moving the hands and feet a little bit can help.
- Pet therapy. If you have bouts of pain that last 5, 10, or 15 minutes, trying to find something pleasant -- like petting an animal's soft fur -- to distract and relax yourself can be helpful.
- Gel packs. These are simple packs that can be warmed or chilled and used to ease localized pain.
Ask the palliative care team or hospice in your area if they can provide you a referral for any of these forms of pain management.Maintaining a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere around the patient goes a long way toward easing pain.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on August 13, 2017
Cancer in the backbone put pressure on my spinal cord causing numbness in legs and feet, the left leg being the worse. Major back surgery to relieve the pressure on the spinal cord was performed.
Recovery has been slow with pain in the left leg keeping me up nights. I can use OXYCODONE for pain control but was looking for a non drug method to manage symptoms.
This Air Relax leg massager has been surprisingly helpful. There are 4 chambers on each leg wrap that fill, hold, then release pressure. There are 4 pressure levels and several pressure patterns available. I find the default pattern and low pressure to suit me just fine. The higher pressure levels can really put the squeeze on you if that is what you need.
The leg wraps seem well made and are easy to slip on. The air pump is quiet. Selecting modes of operation is straightforward and easy to do. Made in Korea. It cost a bit of money but I am glad I made the purchase.
on January 11, 2018