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Chemotherapy-Induced Pain-I.D. Manage

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Multiple Myeloma chemotherapy, causes short, long-term and late stage side effects. Chemotherapy-induced pain is central to the discussion of side effects if the patient wants to manage or even heal the cause of this pain.  Having lived with MM since early 1994, I have lived with my fair share of pain as a side effect caused by chemotherapy.

The single most important thing I’ve learned about pain is that it helps to understand why it hurts, what is causing the pain.

Therefore, this post is about learning about the pain that chemotherapy can cause the newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (NDMM) patient.

I posted the article linked and excerpted below because I found the information in it to be comprehensive. The article does a far better job than I would if I sat down to list all the possible sources of pain caused by chemotherapy that the NDMM patient experiences.

I am linked many of the posts I have written previously about specific aspect of pain. I like the post about radiation pain so I included that one too.

 

David Emerson

  • MM Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading-


Is Chemotherapy Painful? What to Expect

Pain during chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs are administered in a variety of waysTrusted Source, including:

  • via intravenous (IV) line
  • via ports
  • via injections
  • taken orally

Chemotherapy via IV line

During this procedure, which takes only 1 to 2 minutes, a medical professional inserts a needle into a vein in your hand or wrist.

The needle contains a thin plastic tube called a catheter, which allows the drugs to flow directly into your bloodstream. Once the catheter is in place, the needle is removed.

You might feel a mild prickling sensation at the site where the IV is inserted. This should go away shortly after the professional removes the needle and secures the catheter in place.

Most people experience little to no discomfort when having an IV inserted.

The professional will remove the catheter when the treatment is over. In some cases, it’s left in for up to 3 days.

Chemotherapy via ports

Other types of IV catheters, known as ports, can be left in the body for much longer.

These options are used to reduce the number of needles required, to deliver multiple drugs at the same time, and to administer longer-term treatments.

Inserting a port takes around 30 minutes, although you’ll likely stay at the hospital for longer.

When the port is inserted, you’ll be given a local anesthetic. You shouldn’t feel any pain. However, you might notice some mild discomfort later that day, after the anesthetic wears off.

Chemotherapy via injections

In other cases, chemotherapy drugs are delivered via injections.

The pain from a chemotherapy injection is comparable to the pain from any other injection, such as a vaccine.

Chemotherapy taken orally

Chemotherapy may be administered orally using pills or tablets. This treatment is painless.

Pain following chemotherapy

Pain is a potential side effect of chemotherapy.

The pain caused by chemotherapy is often described as a burning, numb, tingling, or shooting sensation. It tends to occur in the hands and feet.

This is called neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is the result of damage to the nerves caused by chemotherapy drugs or, sometimes, the cancer itself.

Other types of pain associated with chemotherapy include:

  • headaches
  • muscle and joint pain
  • stomach aches

Pain caused by chemotherapy should be manageable. Your doctor can prescribe medication to help ease the pain.

It’s important to take pain medication as prescribed. This may involve following a schedule, so you can stay ahead of any potential pain. Don’t wait until your pain is overwhelming to take your pain-relief medication.

Keep in mind that your pain levels may fluctuate throughout your treatment. Many cancer treatment resources recommend keeping a record of when and where you feel pain, what it feels like, and how strong it is.

Speak with your healthcare team about how pain affects your day-to-day activities. They can help you manage any side effects or discomfort you may be experiencing.

Complementary treatments that may ease pain

The following complementary treatments can be used to reduce the pain caused by cancer and chemotherapy:

Short- and long-term side effects of chemotherapy

The side effects of chemotherapy vary from one person to the next. Some people may experience few side effects, while others experience many. It depends on the individual and the type of drug administered.

Most side effects of chemotherapy start during treatment and go away once you finish treatment. However, certain changes can be permanent.

Some potential short- and long-term side effects of chemotherapy are listed in the table below.

Short-term effects Long-term effects
anemia
anxiety
bleeding
bruising
changes in appetite
changes in memory and cognition
changes in sexual function
constipation
depression
diarrhea
dry mouth
fatigue
flu-like symptoms
changes in skin, hair, and nails
headaches
infections
mouth sores
nausea and vomiting
neuropathic pain
weight loss
dental problems
early menopause
hearing loss
heart problems
increased risk of other cancers
infertility
kidney problems
loss of taste
lung problems
nerve damage
neuropathic pain
osteoporosis
Discuss treatment with your doctor

It’s important to keep your healthcare team informed of any side effects you experience during chemotherapy, including pain.

Your doctor can adjust your treatment plan or prescribe additional medication to reduce side effects, such as pain, nausea, or diarrhea.

Takeaway

Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment for cancer.

It’s commonly administered intravenously, although some chemotherapy drugs are injected or taken orally. While this treatment may cause discomfort, it isn’t typically painful.

Pain caused by nerve damage is a potential short-term effect of chemotherapy. Sometimes, pain caused by chemotherapy persists after finishing treatment.

Talk with your doctor or oncologist if you’re experiencing pain related to chemotherapy. They can help you manage your pain, so it doesn’t interfere with your quality of life.

 

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