There are a number of options for pain relief, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. It’s important to talk to a member of your health care team before taking any over-the-counter medication to determine if they are safe and will not interfere with your treatments. Many pain medications can lead to constipation, which may make your pain worse. Your doctor can prescribe medications that help to avoid constipation. A few ways to treat pain include:
Non-opioids. The can include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), aspirin or aspirin-like pain relievers (such as Advil or Aleve).
Medicines used to treat other conditions. Some antidepressant (Cymbalta) or seizure (Gralise and Neurontin) mediations are also effective against pain in some situations.
Opioids. Opioids are the strongest pain relievers available, such as morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone. Fear of becoming addicted is common among people who are prescribed medications for cancer pain. This fear can keep some patients from talking with their doctor about the pain they are in. It can also keep them from following their doctor’s orders about when and how often to take their medicines. It’s important to talk with your doctor about any concerns or fears you may have. This will help ensure that pain medications are used safely and effectively.
Cannabinoids. Cannabinoids contain the active ingredient found in marijuana, and several states have legalized medical marijuana for chronic pain. A number of studies involving individuals undergoing cancer treatment have shown that medical marijuana can work similarly to opioids when treating individuals living with cancer-related pain. Additionally, it may have anti-inflammatory effects that can help with pain. Some treatment plans may include both opioids and marijuana.
Physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage may also be of help in managing your pain. Radiation treatment is often used to manage bone pain caused by a tumor. Consult with a member of your health care team before beginning any of these activities.