What options does a patient have who is dealing with pain?

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MikeRabowMD (Physician - Hospice / Palliative Care (Verified) ) - 05 / 18 / 2012

There are both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, and often they are useful in combination. Pharmacological treatments for moderate to severe pain mostly include opioids (eg morphine, oxycodone,dilaudid, methadone, fentanyl). The key with opioid pain medications it to prevent and treat the associate constipation. People taking opioids almost always need to also be taking enough laxatives, like Senna. NSAIDs like Naprosyn or Ibuprofen can be particularly helpful for bony pain. Sometimes, anesthetic medications and/or opioids can be injected around the spine, or nerves can be treated to “block” the pain from certain cancers (like abdominal pain from pancreatic cancer).

Non-pharmacologic treatments can be key and can help keep the doses of opioids and NSAIDS as low as possible. These interventions include ice and heat, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction / meditation, guided imagery, prayer, etc. But, cancer directed treatments that shrink tumors may also be available and can be very effective pain treatments: chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Radiation in particular can be a very rapid and effective treatment for cancer pain.
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