Tips for Managing Lung Cancer Pain

Learning how to manage the pain of lung cancer is an important part of the treatment plan recommended by your physician. Many people who have been diagnosed with lung cancer experience pain from the tumor itself, and pain throughout the body where the cancer is spreading. Prescription painkillers are usually not enough to prevent lung cancer pain, but there are some other ways to get the pain relief you need.

If you are experiencing a lot of pain after being diagnosed with lung cancer, talk to your physician about some effective pain management treatment options. Your doctor can help to determine what the source of pain is, and what type of pain management plan will be the best match for you.

Common Causes of Pain with Lung Cancer

Excessive pain is a common side effect of lung cancer. Some of the most common causes of lung cancer pain are:

  • A cancerous tumor pressing on the bones or the lining of the lungs
  • A tumor pressing on nerves or nerve endings in the body
  • Excessive coughing or pressure in the throat and chest area
  • Side effects of lung cancer treatments
  • Side effects of incisions

If you have arthritis, experience headaches or migraines frequently, or have other pre-existing conditions, the pain may intensify as you go through lung cancer treatment. In this case, your doctor may recommend alternative therapies and other pain management treatment options.

For many people, the pain associated with lung cancer can make it very difficult to enjoy everyday activities. Pain can interfere with sleep, make it difficult to exercise, and you may find it is difficult to eat properly. In some cases, the pain can lead to depression. Learning how to manage and treat the pain is essential for healing of the body and for managing lung cancer. Some studies suggest that pain is undertreated with lung cancer. For some people, there is a fear of addiction to painkillers and other prescription drugs, a fear that pain medication will no longer work, a fear of side effects from pain medication, and an inability to afford pain medication.

If left untreated, and if the pain becomes too severe, the person diagnosed with lung cancer will need to undergo a nerve block treatment or try a non-medication approach to keep pain under control.

Common Medications and Treatments for Lung Cancer Pain

Some of the most common medications and treatments for lung cancer pain include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Opioids given by prescription (e.g. codeine or morphine)
  • Anti-depressants or anti-seizure drugs
  • Steroids
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgical intervention

If the pain is especially severe, your doctor may recommend neurosurgery. Neurosurgery is performed to cut the nerves that send signals to your brain.

Alternative therapies to keep pain under control include massage therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis and Reiki healing. These may not be a substitute for pain management, but can complement an existing pain management treatment plan.