Non-drug therapies may also be helpful in treating the pain from pancreatic cancer and improving the patient’s ability to perform normal activities. These therapies include relaxation, imagery, distraction, heat and cold therapy, massage, hypnosis, physical therapy, learning to position for comfort, learning coping skills, and emotional support and counseling.
These therapies can be used in conjunction with pain medications. More than one non-drug pain therapy can be used at any one time.
Patient and family or significant other education is an important part of helping all involved in the care of the patient. Patient education can promote self-care in pain treatment and the management of side effects.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Pain Control
- What can be done to relieve my pain?
- What can we do if the medicine does not work?
- What other options do I have for pain control?
- Will the pain medicines have side effects?
- What can be done to manage the side effects?
- Will the treatment limit my activities (i.e., working, driving, etc.)?
It is important to remember that each patient is unique and any treatment plan developed will be developed for each person’s specific pain. The type and amount of pain medication may need to be adjusted and fine-tuned to each patient’s need. The management of pain in the patient with pancreatic cancer requires constant vigilance and a commitment by all members of the team to manage and control pain. If a patient does not feel the doctors or other members of the health care team are not responsive to his or her pain management, then seek another doctor or pain management team that will. A patient must feel comfortable with not only the pain management plan but also with those health care individuals involved in the plan. The pain of pancreatic cancer can be managed and must not be ignored.
There can be side effects of the various pain medications and other pain management therapies. Constipation is usual after analgesic drugs. Diarrhea is common after procedures directed toward the celiac plexus. Nausea and vomiting can be the effect of the pain but also the side effect of oral analgesics, and further decrease the already impaired appetite of the patient, increasing the rate of weight loss, fatigue, and depressed mood.
There are numerous pharmacologic agents such as opioids and other analgesics along with nonpharmacologic agents that are available such that no patient with pancreatic cancer should have to endure pain.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD