The causes of pain in a child undergoing cancer treatment can be pinpointed as this is the one causing the child to be in such pain. Side effects of the treatment that cause mouth sores can be really painful. Treatment Of cancer primarily involves the removal of cancer cells from the body and this is done by various means and can cause severe pain in the bone or tissues where then treatment is being directed. Tests such as bone marrow aspirate and lumbar punctures can especially be even more painful.
If your child is undergoing any pain it should be notified to your healthcare provider. They will work together to determine the cause of the pain and provide further treatment options accordingly.
How do children understand pain as they grow:
- Infants who are between 0-3 months will not be able to understand pain. Though it might be in their memory, it is not proven so. They exhibit the feeling of kicking or crying.
- When they are about 3-6 months, they exhibit sadness and anger as part of their pain response.
- When they’re about 6-18mths, the pain memory exists and they are quite fearful of situations that cause them pain.
- When they are about 18 -254mths old, the feeling of pain can be described using the word ‘hurt’ and they actively try to avoid situations or objects that hurt them in the past.
- When they are about 2-3yrs, you can describe what caused pain and explain it to them.
- When they are about 3-5yrs, they learn to describe the pain to some extent and will use distractions to try and relieve pain.
- When they are about 5-7yrs, they try to describe the levels at which they feel the pain and start using coping mechanisms. During such times, start using positive and self-assuring statements.
- When they are about 7-10yrs, they can explain fully well if something hurts them
- When they are older than 11yrs, they can understand that it is their body’s way of telling them that something is not right.
Before you give any sort of medication to your child, always seek the consultation of their doctor. The medical consultant will prescribe the medications based on the child’s type of pain, the body weight, and whether or not the medication can be taken by the mouth in case there are sores in the mouth. A kind of tool is used such as a pain scale where your child’s pain levels will be monitored. The type of scale should be recommended by your child’s healthcare provider. Remember, the goal is to make your child feel as comfortable as possible.
Helping your child:
Parents always know the best way to keep their child comfortable as they know their child best. So if you feel that your child might be experiencing some discomfort or pain, let the healthcare specialist know immediately, and if they had previously experienced such conditions, also let them know what kind of relief method was made use of.
Some ways to keep your child feel comfortable include,
Distracting them: Make them focus on something fun or relaxing like listening to songs, watching movies, etc.
Visual imagery: you can show your child some visual aids that can put them in a relaxing, safe, and fun place.
Deep breathing techniques: these can help in the relaxation of the mind and body thus distracting them from the pain
Practicing any of these pains can make your child feel more relaxed and take their mind off the pain. You can seek the help of a member of a healthcare team to keep your child more comfortable.
Is it possible to relieve pain caused due to cancer treatments?
Not all types of cancer treatment cause pain. If you experience pain, it is likely due to the recurrence or spread of cancer. Under such circumstances, the chances of experiencing pain are quite higher.
Here are many forms of cancer pains. Some pains can be dull, while some can be achy, sharp, or burning. It can either be constant or occur intermittently, mild or moderate or severe. The pain conditions are based on the type of cancer that you have, how advanced the cancer is, and the location of cancer.
Most pains caused by cancer are manageable however controlling your pain is an essential part of your treatment.
What is the Cause of Pain?
The pain is caused by cancer itself. It is more due to the cancer cells growing rapidly and destroying the cells and tissues next to them. As the tumor grows in size the strain is exerted on the nerves, bones, and organs too. In addition to that, the tumor cells release a kind of chemical that can cause pain. Therefore the treatment of cancer not only reduces the excessive growth of cells but also greatly alleviates the pain conditions. Cancer treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, though these therapies also cause pain, they are effective in not allowing the cancer cells to recur in the long term.
How to treat Cancer Pain?
There are numerous treatments available for curing pain caused due to cancer. The options for these pain relief techniques are based on the cause of the pain and the intensity of your pain level. Pain relief treatments involve making use of combination treatments.
OTC Medications: taking pain relievers for relieving mild to moderate levels of pain without a prescription can help. Some of the medications that are most commonly used are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, & Motrin IB), and aspirin
Derivatives of opioids: These prescription medication data are recommended for pain conditions and are greatly helpful in treating moderate to severe pain. Most commonly prescribed opioids are morphine (Kadian, Ms Contin) and oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone). Some medications belonging to this category are fast-acting drugs while some take a longer time to act. In the latter, though the effectiveness felt late, there is a need to take them quite as often as the former. In severe cases, short-acting and long-acting opioids are taken in combination.
Other prescription medication: other prescription medications such as antidepressants, steroids, and anti-seizure drugs also greatly help.
Performing procedures: There are procedures performed to block the pain signals from being sent to the brain. A nerve block procedure is what will be done and a numbing medicine will be injected around or into the nerve.
Integrative techniques: Pain relief can also be achieved through acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, relaxation exercises, medication, and hypnosis too.
There may also be other viable options available. Talk to your child’s healthcare team and choose the most suitable method for them to make them feel comfortable.
It is to be noted that all pain medications have side effects and the ones administered for cancer patients are no different. Consult your doctor and make the right decision. Understand the risks and benefits associated with each pain treatment method.
Why isn’t an adequate treatment for cancer pain not provided?
Cancer pain is mostly underrated as the main focus is only on eliminating the cancer cells. In addition to that, the following factors also contribute to cancer pain not being given such importance,
- Doctors are usually reluctant to ask patients whether they need treatment for their pain conditions. But as per the guidelines, the specialists can ask the patients about their pain conditions and whether they need treatment to relieve them. If the doctor has not had sufficient knowledge of the matter they might recommend your child to palliative care. The reluctance of doctors to prescribe pain meds is due to the increased number of people abusing them.
- Patients’ reluctance: in some cases the patients are also reluctant to maintain that pain condition with their doctors as they don’t want to ‘bother’ them with something that is a natural outcome of the treatment. While some of the fear that increased pain indicates that their cancer is getting worse.
- Fear of addiction: the risk of getting addicted to opioids is quite high but the risk of addiction in patients having advanced cancer is quite low. The patient might develop tolerance to the drug causing them to take higher amounts. If your feel the drug is not working effectively tell your doctor so and do not increase the dosage amount by yourself.
- Fear of side effects: Side effects are a part and parcel of taking pain meds but people are quite scared of falling asleep too often and too much. Being unable to communicate what they feel and acting strangely are all side effects of medication. These occurrences happen when you have been prescribed fairly strong meds for your pain but these dosage amounts are stabilized once your pain condition reduces.
How to let your doctor know that you are experiencing pain?
If the pain conditions intensify or if they do not go away, tell your doctor immediately. It is important to keep track of your pain conditions by providing them information like,
- The intensity of your pian
- What kind of pain are your experiencing
- The part of the body where you feel the pain
- The cause or the trigger of the pian
- That relieves the pain
- And the type of pain relief technique that our child uses, other medications, massage, hot or cold packs, etc, and the effects and the side effects of these practices.