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  • Cancer Pain
    • What is Cancer Pain
    • Types of Cancer Pain
    • Treatment of Cancer Pain
    • Cancer Fatigue

Treatment of Cancer Pain

Drug Therapy

Cancer pain can largely be controlled with painkillers. Most painkillers are administered orally, however, skin adhesive analgesics can be used, and in some cases analgesic injections can be used.

How to use analgesics.

There are nonnarcotic analgesics and narcotic analgesics. Nonnarcotic analgesics can be used to control less severe pains for cancer patients whom have never taken painkillers for cancer pains. Patients with moderate to severe pain should use narcotic analgesics.
Narcotic analgesics, depending on the duration of the drug effect, can be classified into two groups, sustained-release and fast-acting.
The sustained-release analgesic is usually used to control constant pain, and the fast-acting analgesic is used to control sudden pain.

Sustained release analgesic
The drug is slowly absorbed into the body and has a long-lasting effect. Orally administered drugs can be effective up to 8 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. Sustained-release analgesics should not be changed in form. Ingesting broken or crushed sustained-release analgesics may cause side effects, as it would drastically increase the drug concentration in the body.
Fast-acting analgesics
The effect of the drug appears approximately 30 minutes after administration. The effect of the drug lasts for about 4 hours and it used in case of sudden pain.

Principle of administering analgesics

Effective usage of analgesics
Appropriate analgesia should be used depending on the degree of pain, type of pain and cause of pain.
Using appropriate dosage
It is necessary to take the proper dosage depending on the degree of pain. However, rather than to arbitrarily increase the amount of pain medication, it is recommended to determine the proper dosage after consultation with a medical staff.
Prescribed/Appropriate time to take medicine
Even if there is mild or no pain, the pain medication (especially sustained-release analgesics) should be taken at prescribed times. Once the pain starts again, the sustained-release analgesics takes a considerable amount of time to control the pain forcing increased usage of fast-acting analgesics, which may increase the side effects. In addition, even in the case of fast-acting analgesic, the medication should be taken when sudden pain is anticipated or when pain is expected due to particular posture. If the medicine is taken when the pain is already severe, the pain can be more difficult to regulate.
Monitoring the effect of drug and its side effects
The dosage can be increased or decreased depending on the change of the patient’s condition. Therefore, it is important to closely monitor the effectiveness of the drug, and constant monitoring is necessary as the dosage change can also cause side effects.

Side effects of narcotic analgesic

Constipation is the most common side effect of narcotic analgesics, so prevention is important. The best way to prevent constipation is to drink a lot of fluids, such as water and juice, and consume vegetables and fruits that have a lot of fibers. Light exercise will also help to prevent constipation. Laxatives should be prescribed together with narcotic analgesics and should predose to prevent the constipation.
Nausea or vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are side effects that usually appear in the initial days of taking narcotic analgesics, and most patients’ conditions improve within a few days. If such symptoms occur, instead of stopping the use of the narcotic analgesics, it is recommended to consult with your doctor or nurse for an alternative drug to relieve the side effects and monitor the progress.
Patients taking narcotic analgesics for the first time may experience drowsiness or slight discombobulation. These symptoms usually improve after 2-3 days, but if symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional as it may be necessary to replace the analgesics.
Respiratory depression
It is possible for the patient to breathe slower if the dosage of the drug is rapidly increased, especially in case of injections. If the patient takes less than 10 breaths per minute, the patient must immediately stop taking the drug and must consult a healthcare professional.

Nonpharmacologic Treatment

Nerve block method

Not only does uncontrollable cancer pains frustrate cancer patients, the pain may decrease patient’s immunity worsening the patient’s conditions.
Therefore, a more aggressive method of controlling the pain is necessary.
Common pharmacologic treatments can effectively control most cancer pains, but it could be very difficult to control the pain for some patients. In such cases, using an epidural nerve block can be more effective to control the pain.
If (narcotic) analgesic is administered to the epidural space, the analgesic effect can be maximized because a much lower dose can have a powerful analgesic effect (10 time to more than 100 times).
Our hospital has a lot of know-how about pain control through providing treatment for patients with spinal pain using non-surgical injection procedure for over a decade.
Do not suffer from cancer pain. Our hospital can help.

Scrambler method

The scrambler method is a treatment that relieves pain by adjusting the pain sensitivity of the neurotransmitter, which is where the pain from the affected area passes to the brain. The scrambler method is particularly effective for patients suffering from cancer pain or patients suffering from chronic intractable pain unresponsive to narcotic analgesics or other pain treatments. Long-term use of the scrambler method enhances the patient’s pain threshold, decreasing the pain sensitivity, which would increase the effectiveness of the treatment as the duration of the analgesic effect would gradually increase. Depending of the patient’s symptoms, the treatment should continue everyday for 2-3 weeks, and it can be performed at any time when necessary. The scrambler method is a safe treatment with no reported side effects.

Thermotherapy using microwave heater

What is a microwave?
In general, it is a high-frequency wave with a frequency of 300-3000MH, with a range of wavelengths between 1mm-1m, and has almost the same properties as light. It has a strong sterilizing quality and has a heat generating quality, as it is well absorbed in water.
The ultra-high frequency thermotherapy uses such microwaves to generate friction between molecules to give off heat. This has the effect of reducing the pain in the affected area and of increasing and stabilizing the body temperature, which increases patient’s immunity through vitalization of immune cells.

Depression and insomnia treatment using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS is an innovative therapy that places a magnetic patch that induces depolarization of nerve cells in order to safely stimulate the brain. This is a safe treatment that has no side effects and causes no pain during procedure. The duration of the treatment should be for 20 minutes everyday for 2-3 weeks. It is not only effective against chronic headaches, depression and insomnia, but also against nerve pains caused by chronic spinal and joint disorders.
It is especially helpful for patients who have been psychologically weakened during their fight against cancer.

Treatment of automatic nervous system

Autonomic nerve heat stimulation method
The physical therapist uses a heating device to apply heat to the autonomic nerves and the sensitized nerve fibers to stabilize the balance automatic nervous system and reduce the pain. This method is effective as it raises the deep body temperature, increases immunity, increases blood circulation, relieves fatigue and pain, and reduces stress.
Graston manual therapy
The physical therapist uses apparatus to normalize the soft tissues, which will effectively recover the damaged muscle and fascia tissues and improve the joint function and range of motion. This method is particularly effective for cancer and chronic disease patients whom have significantly decreased mobility due to extended exposure to extreme tension.