Cancer pain occurs when nerve receptors send a pain message to the brain, letting it know that there is a potential problem. Some nerve receptors are extremely sensitive, while others are not. Most of the time, cancer pain is caused when a mass or tumor is pressing against a nerve. If the patient has undergone surgery or chemotherapy treatment, there could be some nerve damage that is causing cancer pain.
Learning to recognize cancer pain is essential when trying to find the best pain reducing treatment. Let a doctor or nurse know where the pain is located and the severity. The time of day, duration, and activity information should also be given to the health professional. Cancer can occur in any part of the body and cancer pain can be attributed to the part of the body that is affected.
Neuropathic pain is caused by the damage and invasion of nerves by cancer. This type of cancer pain is most often chronic and can be extremely difficult to treat. As soon as nerves begin to send pain messages to the brain, the cancer pain will begin and can last for a long time. Nerve damage pain can also be caused by radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and not the tumor itself.
Somatic pain can occur in the muscles, bones and skin. Sensitive pain receptors are found just under the skin and send pain messages to the brain extremely quick, causing rapid, sharp pain. This pain is part of the body's defense system to alert you to danger. The pain will receded with the trigger is removed.
Chronic pain receptors are found in the muscles, bones and internal organs. These pain receptors slowly transmit pain signals to the brain, causing a dull, aching pain that may continue even after the trigger is brought to an end. The result of several receptors sending pain messages to the brain is extreme pain.
The nerves located in an organ are extremely sensitive to pressure and chemical changes. Small tumors may not cause any pain, but they grow and destroy vessels and tissue, which impedes oxygen and creates chemical changes that transmit pain messages. The cancer pain may be acute and sharp or dull and throbbing and is sometimes severe.
A tumor may also bring about increased pressure on the nerves that lay against other internal organs. When pain messages are fired to the brain from one area, they follow a common pathway of nerves from other areas, confusing the brain and causing "referred" pain. This means that cancer pain in one region can cause pain in another region.
If cancer causes an amputation of a limb, the nerve receptors that had been firing pain messages from the missing limb may continue to do so, causing "phantom" pain. Phantom pain is hard to control and is long lasting.
- Always consult a physician when dealing with pain and medications
- Follow prescription instructions to maintain a consistent level of medication for maximum benefits
- Contact a doctor if you have severe pain that came on suddenly