Q: My dad is in the intermediate stages of what is certainly terminal cancer. He is experiencing a great deal of pain, but doesn't like the way the pain medication makes him feel. Are there some other pain-control techniques he might try?
A: I am certainly no expert on cancer or pain control, and I also know that the primary thing he should do is talk with the doctors and other members of his health care team. Living with unnecessary pain decreases the overall quality of one's life.
The Cancer Information Service offers some alternative pain-control suggestions along with a couple of helpful resources.
Relaxation techniques, such as visual concentration and breathing exercises relieve pain by reducing tension in the muscles.
Imagery means using your imagination to create mental pictures or situations to reduce pain. The relief can last during imagery and for hours afterward.
Hypnosis is a trance-like state between sleeping and waking. It can be used to block the awareness of pain or to substitute another feeling for pain.
For all of these alternative pain-control treatments, your father will need expert advice and assistance. This certainly is not a do-it-yourself list.
For free copies of the National Cancer Institute booklets "Pain Control: A guide for People with Cancer and Their Families" and "Understanding Pain Control," call the Cancer Information Service at (800) 4-CANCER.
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