4 common cancer pain management myths

Nearly half of cancer patients experience pain caused by the cancer itself, cancer treatment or factors that aren’t related to cancer. When pain isn’t treated properly, it can interfere with sleep, quality of life and even how effective your treatment is. Although cancer pain is common, there’s a lot of misunderstanding surrounding pain and the options for managing it. Here are four cancer pain management misconceptions Uzondu Osuagwu, M.D., commonly hears. Myth: Pain is just a physical issue. Truth: Pain can often coexist with anxiety, stress or depression. Patients who face these emotional side effects of cancer may experience chronic joint pain, back pain or gastrointestinal issues. So pain is not just a physical health issue. “If pain is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy or impacting your sleep, you may experience mood changes or increased anxiety,” Osuagwu says. “It’s important to tell your care team about any pain and mental health challenges you’re experiencing, so they can recommend the right treatment plan for you.” A therapist or social work counselor can help you navigate some of the causes of your stress and anxiety — such as transportation issues, financial and family concerns — and develop strategies to cope with them. If you’re an MD Anderson patient, you can request a referral to our pain psychologist for help addressing the causes of your pain. Myth: Medication is the only option for cancer pain relief. Truth: There are a lot of options when it comes to managing pain without medication. “The goal of pain management is to improve your quality of life,” Osuagwu says. “Whether you want to...