Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Cancer Pain


Several complementary and alternative treatments are available to help reduce cancer pain. These can be used together with conventional medical treatments to achieve maximum pain relief.

Acupuncture involves the placement of thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. It is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that may help relieve pain, including cancer-related pain.

Hypnosis is a form of deep concentration that induces a trance-like state. A hypnotherapist can help an individual relax into hypnosis and focus on pain control and stress reduction.

Certain areas of the feet, hands and ears are thought to correspond to other body parts or organs. A reflexologist can apply pressure to these specific points in order to reduce regional pain.

A registered massage therapist can use techniques such as Swedish massage, or light touch massage, to help reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. A specific type of massage known as manual lymph drainage is often used to reduce swelling and discomfort after certain cancer surgeries or from cancer-related side effects such as lymphedema.

Chinese herbal medicine
Chinese herbal medicine involves the use of herbal concoctions, formulated by an herbalist, to help treat medical conditions and symptoms, including cancer pain. The herbs are commonly taken internally or applied to the skin, especially in painful areas. Chinese herbal medicine may reduce pain without the side effects associated with conventional pain medications. Individuals who use any herbal medicine should ensure that their oncologist(s) and pharmacist are informed of exactly what they are using to prevent interactions with chemotherapy drugs or other medications.

A health care professional should always be consulted before trying any new complementary or alternative treatment for cancer pain.

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