What else can help with controlling pain
Many people assume that drugs or other treatments are the only way to control cancer pain. In fact, they are only one part of treatment.
Sometimes, simple ways of making you feel better are overlooked. There are a lot of things that you and other people can do to make you feel better.
Staying as comfortable as possible
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The way you sit or lie down can affect your pain. Try to be in a comfortable position. Remember, what may feel comfortable at first may be painful 15 or 20 minutes later. Family or friends can help you change position as often as you need. This will also reduce the risk of your skin becoming sore because of being in one position for a long time.
Bedding may need to be tidied or changed. You may feel a lot better when you get back into a cool bed with fresh bed linen.
Other things that can help are:
v-shaped pillows or supports that help reduce backache and neck pain
a bed cradle to keep the weight of blankets off weak or painful limbs
a special mattress and cushions
equipment to help with movement and sitting.
Your district nurse can help you get these things, or tell you where to get them.
Heat pads and warm baths can help relieve aches and pains. They may help relax muscles and reduce joint stiffness. Ice packs can help relieve pain where there is inflammation and swelling. Some people find that alternating heat with cold helps them.
Always take care to protect your skin from burns when using heat pads and ice packs. Heat pads should be used with a fleece cover. Ice packs should be wrapped in a towel before you place them near the skin. Heat shouldn’t be used on body areas that are already inflamed or swollen, as it can make the swelling worse.
Watching TV, reading, playing computer games, listening to music or chatting to a friend are ways of using your mind to think of something else. Sitting in a chair or lying in bed with nothing to do can become depressing. Short periods of entertainment can help you feel better and help you cope better with your pain. Short, regular visits from friends and relatives may help. And it’s good to have something nice like this to look forward to.
This is using music or art to reduce anxiety and relax you. It may help you to express your feelings in a creative way. You don’t have to be musical or artistic. Music or art therapists often run classes at hospitals or hospices. Going out and meeting other people while enjoying an activity may also help to distract you from any pain, and help you to feel as good as possible.
Practical support and information
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You may be anxious about your treatment or worried about coping at home. You may be having financial problems or emotional difficulties. Often, friends or relatives can help by getting information from doctors and nurses for you, or by researching services that can help. Sometimes, there is little that they can say or do, but just having them there to listen and understand can be a huge relief.
Getting help with the things that worry you can help you cope better with pain. If you are less stressed, this can make pain easier to control. We can give you the support and information you need, and tell you about other services that can help - call us.
Art therapist Michele Wood talks in our online community about art therapy and how it can help people with cancer.