Addressing Cancer Pain with Complementary Methods (Part 2)

This blog provides some information on pain relief methods you can try at home in concert with your medications and other methods you may use to treat your pain. Remember to talk with your provider about any integrative or complementary therapies you are using during your cancer treatment.

This blog provides some information on pain relief methods you can try at home in concert with your medications and other methods you may use to treat your pain.

Things you can do yourself or with a group

  • Somatic tracking: Somatic tracking is a technique that involves paying attention to bodily sensations and using this awareness to manage pain. By becoming more aware of bodily sensations, individuals can learn to regulate their responses to pain and reduce the intensity of pain. This technique is often used in combination with mindfulness practices.
    • Somatic Tracking Exercise: Somatic tracking can be likened to a tour guide who leads you through a dark and unfamiliar forest. Pain is like the darkness that can feel overwhelming and disorienting.
    • The tour guide helps you navigate through the forest by pointing out the various trees and landmarks along the way, allowing you to gain a better sense of your surroundings and find your way out of the darkness. Here is a link to a Somatic Tracking Exercise you can try. You may not want to try this activity when you are having very high levels of pain.

Try for 2-3 minutes. The act of doing is more important than the outcome.  

  • Mindfulness: A practice that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. This practice can help individuals with cancer reduce stress and anxiety, which contribute to pain. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, deep breathing, body scan, or other techniques.
  • Mindfulness Resources
    •  Insight Timer (free) A large library of free guided meditations with the ability to see who else is listening at the same time or create a circle of loved ones to meditate together. Start with teachers like Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, or Rhonda Magee until you find a teacher you connect with. If you are looking for unguided internal exploration, check out sound baths which use frequencies that drop your mind into a relaxed state.
    • Balance: A meditation app that adapts with you through personalized audio. For a limited time, offering a year for free.
    • Headspace: A mindfulness personal trainer to help beginners form a daily practice. Offers a free trial.
    • Find more mindfulness resources here.

Things you can do with the help of a professional

  • Biofeedback: A technique that involves using electronic sensors to monitor bodily functions like heart rate, muscle tension, and breathing. By learning to control these functions, individuals can reduce pain and stress. Biofeedback is effective in managing cancer pain by helping individuals to reduce tension and stress in their bodies.  View this to see what a biofeedback therapy session looks like
  • Reiki: A form of energy healing that involves using light touch or no-touch techniques to balance energy in the body. This practice can help to reduce pain, anxiety, and stress in individuals with cancer. View to see what a Reiki session looks like
  • Acupuncture: Involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points of the body to stimulate the nervous system to release endorphins (the body’s natural pain reliever). It can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and reduce nausea symptoms from chemotherapy.
  • Hypnotherapy: Involves induction into a trance-like state of relaxation and heightened suggestibility. It is far different from what is shown in pop culture. You will be aware of the experience, although one’s time perception may be altered. Learn more about hypnosis for sleep here

Trying different techniques can help manage your pain symptoms. What techniques have your tried that have been helpful?

Carter Moss is an MSW student at West Chester University with a field placement at the Abramson Cancer Center. He has extensive knowledge of pain and its impacts through his personal experience recovering from Fibromyalgia.

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