Balance Blog

Oct 11th

Massage Therapy and Cancer Pain

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A diagnosis of cancer can be life changing. Many people living with the disease face changes in their routines, relationships, work, finances, and how they look and feel.   Mood problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression can take over.  Pain from cancer can become a serious problem.

Cancer pain can be caused by medical tests, spinal cord compression or pain from a tumor.  Treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, can also cause pain.

Treating cancer pain begins with an attempt to remove the source of the pain, which involves removing the cancer itself when possible.  When this is not possible, pain medications are often the next step.    Medications range from over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, to strong prescriptions such as morphine.  In some cases nerve blocks may be used.

More doctors are recommending alternative therapies in conjunction with medications for pain.  Acupuncture, physical therapy, meditation and massage therapy may help.

Studies suggest that massage therapy can actually decrease some of the problems associated with a diagnosis of cancer, including pain, insomnia, fatigue, depression, anxiety and stress.  “Many health care professionals recognize massage as a useful, noninvasive addition to standard medical treatment.”  [American Cancer Society]  Since stress and anxiety can cause pain, or worsen pain that you already have, massage therapy can be a very helpful complementary therapy.

It’s been said by people living with cancer that due to the nature of the disease, and the treatments for it, it can feel as if your body is at war with you.  These people report that massage therapy can bring back a sense of well-being, a positive connection with your body that can be lost during the course of the disease and its treatment.

For more information:

American Cancer Society 
The Mayo Clinic, cancer pain

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