Adam Sewell MD


Cancer is a devastating diagnosis, and it can effect people in many different ways. Most people with cancer eventually experience pain due to their condition and/or the treatments themselves. Approximately, 25% of patients with newly diagnosed malignancies complain of pain, and up to 90% percent of those with advanced cancer experience pain (Grossman 1994).

Pain associated with cancer can take many forms, and it can be sharp and severe, or a dull constant ache. Regardless of the type of pain, a diagnosis of cancer does not mean you have to suffer with debilitating pain. The physicians at Arkansas Pain Specialists understand the devastating effects pain related to cancer, and will develop a treatment plan that meets your specific needs.


Cancer pain can be experienced when a tumor presses on nerves or expands inside a hollow organ. It, also, commonly originates from bone destructive lytic lesions. Bone marrow infiltration commonly causes bone pain that can be severe as well. Unfortunately, the radiation and chemotherapeutic treatments used to treat cancer can, also, result in fairly intense pain.


The treatment for pain due to cancer must specific to an individual, because the pain is specific as well. It is important that your pain physician develops a treatment regimen that will be most beneficial and successful for you. Some of the commonly used non-drug pain treatments are:

  • Pharmacotherapy: NSAIDs (Ibuprofen like drugs), opiod type medications, muscle relaxants, and membrane-stabilizing medications can be very effective in treating cancer pain.
  • Nerve blocks: Specific nerve blocks and neurodestructive procedures can help relieve pain conditions due to cancer. One such block is used for patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer, Celiac Plexus Blocks< can be extremely effective at treating difficult pain. Recent studies show this technique helped to control pain and reduce pain medication consumption (Yan 2007). Your pain physician will determine which nerve block treatment is right for you.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): is a technique that relieves pain by applying mild electric current to the skin at the site of the pain. The electric impulses interfere with normal pain sensations and alter perceptions that were previously painful.
  • Intrathecal Pumps: Implanted pain pumps are also available which can be extremely helpful providing long-term pain control. The effectiveness of intrathecal therapy in patients suffering from nociceptive pain showed a pain reduction in 66.7% of patients experiencing pain due to cancer (Becker 2000).
  • Biofeedback: This is a treatment that teaches a patient to become aware of processes that are normally thought to be involuntary inside of the body (such as blood pressure, temperature and heart rate control). This method enables you to gain some conscious control of these processes, which can influence and improve your level of pain. A better awareness of one’s body teaches one to effectively relax and this can help to relieve pain.
  • Massage: Gentle focal rubbing of the tender areas may help relieve muscle spasms or contractions and improve associated discomfort. Massage can also be help patients relax, decreasing stress and tension.
  • Radiation therapy and surgery: can also have palliative outcomes for cancer patients.


  1. Cancer Pain –
  2. Current management of pain in patients with cancer. Oncology (Williston Park). 1994 Mar;8(3):93-107; discussion 107, 110, 115 Grossman SA, Staats PS. PMID: 7912540 Neurolytic celiac plexus block for pain control in unresectable pancreatic cancer. Yan BM, Myers RP. Am J Gastroenterol. 2007 Feb;102(2):430-8. Epub 2006 Nov 13 PMID: 17100960 The significance of intrathecal opioid therapy for the treatment of neuropathic cancer pain conditions. Becker R, Jakob D, Uhle EI, Riegel T, Bertalanffy H. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 2000;75(1):16-26 PMID: 11416261

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