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Top ten tips of coping with cancer-related pain.

Do not suffer silently. Let your loved ones and cancer team know you are pain. Talk openly about how it affects your day-to-day life and ability to cope with other aspects of your cancer care. Notify your healthcare provider if you have any new pain, if your pare worsens or if you notice episodes of severe pare that break through" what is otherwise tolerable background pare.

Take pain seriously. Do not ignore your discomfort because you think 1) it will go away, or 2) that reporting it might take attention away from your cancer treatment. Nearly all cancer pain. including breakthrough pain, can be managed and should be addressed as part of your overall cancer care.

Become an "expert" on your pain condition so that you can advocate for your needs. Learn all you can about your illness, treatment, and symptom management needs. Ask questions and read reliable materials that give you the information you need to become an "expert" about your particular situation Be sure that you understand what medications you are taking and why you are taking them.

Act early. The sooner you tel1 your cancer team about your pain, the better. That's because as pain becomes more severe, it is typically more stubborn and difficult to treat. Untreated pain can also disrupt your sleep and appetite and may slow your ability to heal.

Notice patterns and find ways to adapt. Keep a diary to help track and anticipate situations or activities that trigger pain, especially breakthrough cancer pain. Share this information with your healthcare provider; he/she may advise you to take a short-acting pain medication in advance of these triggers to help prevent the pain in the first place.

Be patient. It will likely take you and your healthcare team several tries before you find a combination of therapies to ease your pain and suffering. And your goals for treatment may change over time. Find things that help you stay calm, think positively and become more hopeful--this helps to lower pain too.

Ask about how to manage side effects. Like all medications, prescription pain medications have side effects. Some of these (for example, sedation and mental fogginess) tend to go away after a period of time, but others, such as constipation, can be ongoing. Make sure you and your healthcare provider have a plan for managing constipation and other side effects you might experience.

Pace yourself. If your pain gets worse as you become more active. do not try to accomplish too much in one day or in one time frame. Try to bite off little bits and then rest. Know that there will be occasions when you will not be able to do this, for example, when the grandchildren come over to play. But whenever you can, try to pace yourself.

Breathe deep. If you start to feel anxious, which often happens when you are hit with pain, particularly if it comes without warning, find strategies that help you cope. Try relaxation exercises, deep breathing or hypnosis and guided imagery. You can also try some light exercise by walking or taking a swim or distract yourself by reading, watching TV, talking with a friend or working on a favorite hobby.

Tell your cancer treatment team about other health issues that may aggravate your pain. Part of controlling your pain is treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, or sleep problems that can make your pain worse.

(Extracted with permission from Pain Community News, April
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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