Lymphoma Pain: Medications and Alternative Therapies

The pain a patient experiences from lymphoma is often two-fold. First, there is the primary pain, caused by the cancer itself as it affects different organs and areas of the body. There is also secondary pain that arises as a side effect of cancer treatments. In both instances, there are ways to fight lymphoma pain, and in talking with your doctor, you will develop a pain management plan that is tailored to your own needs and preferences.

Types of Pain

Many pain specialists will begin by asking a patient to describe or characterize her pain. Typically, lymphoma pain will fall into one of three categories:

  • Acute pain, which comes on suddenly and lasts only a short time
  • Chronic pain, which is more less constant over time, and may be mild or severe
  • Breakthrough pain, which is triggered by a particular activity or changing medications

It is important that you be as thorough and honest as possible with your doctor in order to arrange the best options for the treatment of your pain. You will also probably be asked to rank your pain on a scale, typically from one to ten, with one being no pain and ten being the worst pain you can imagine.

Occasionally, you may have to speak up yourself before someone will help you with pain management. Don't be afraid to do so. It is your doctors' job to assist you or refer you to another specialist who can. You must serve as your own advocate and be vocal about your wishes for treatment.

Medications

The most commonly prescribed treatments for lymphoma pain are drugs. The goal of most painkilling drugs is to alleviate as much of the pain as possible while keeping the strength of the drug and its dosage as low as possible. Mild pain will often respond to over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which include ibuprofen (Advil).

For more severe pain, or pain that will not respond to milder medications, a doctor may prescribed stronger drugs, usually opioids like codeine, morphine, and methadone. These are strong enough that they may cause your body to become accustomed to them, which will require your doctor to adjust your dosage over the course of treatment.

Alternative Therapies

Not everyone is comfortable with a pain management plan that is highly dependent on drugs. Higher-potency prescription medications in particular can have serious side effects, and many patients look for alternatives. The following are a few non-pharmaceutical options for managing lymphoma pain.

  • Meditation/Relaxation Techniques
  • Acupuncture/Acupressure
  • Message Therapy
  • Yoga
  • Biofeedback
  • Deep Breathing Exercises
  • Cognitive-behavioral Therapy

While these techniques may be enough on their own for very mild pain, many patients choose to use one or more as a complementary therapy alongside more traditional pain management (i.e., painkillers). It is worth noting that some of these techniques may interfere with other elements of your pain management plan, so any alternative therapies should be discussed with your doctor before you begin.

Photo: Pexels

More Articles

More Articles

In T cell lymphoma, T lymphocytes, which are an essential part of the body's immune response, become malignant. T cell lymphomas account for about...

Lymphomatoid Papulosis (LyP) is a rare skin disorder that involves cancerous looking skin lesions. It is more than a skin condition; it is the...

In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you have your B-cell lymphomas and you have your T-cell lymphomas.

Why B...

MALT lymphoma is a rare B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that typically runs an indolent or slow-growing clinical...

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a relatively rare B-cell subtype of non-Hodgkin'...

T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma (T-LBL) is a very rare subtype of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It tends to develop in...

In general, a diagnosis of T-cell lymphoma denotes a poorer prognosis than a diagnosis of B-cell lymphoma. One of...

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is just one of 50-60 known B-cell subtypes of...

After some of the dust has settled, the thoughts of many new lymphoma patients turn to diet and nutrition. They want to know if, in the past,...

The term NK T cell lymphoma refers to one of two subtypes of lymphoma that affect the NK (Natural Killer)...

In a perfect world, every case of cancer would respond to, and be cured by first-line therapy. Unfortunately, it is not often the case. This is...

Prednisone is a glucocorticosteroid (a steroid) used in the treatment of many types of cancers. It functions as an anti-inflammatory medicine that...

In 1964, researchers at the National Cancer Institute developed the first combination chemotherapy that cured a...