Symptoms of Back Pain
Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along your spine, from the base of the neck to the tail bone Sharp, localized pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back — especially after lifting heavy objects or engaging in other strenuous activity. Chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods.
Back pain that radiates from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes. Inability to stand straight without having pain or muscle spasms in the lower back.
Don’t be surprised if much of this information is new to you. If you are like many people, you haven’t had to spend much time in your life thinking about managing pain and so you have not become aware of the progress made in recent years to help.
Here are some basic facts about cancer pain:
- Cancer pain can be relieved. The World Health Organization reports that in 85%-97% of all cancer cases, pain can be controlled.
- Cancer patients taking opioids and other medications do not become “drug addicts” despite the fears that many people have. READ MORE about the Myth of Addiction elsewhere on this site.
- Taking medication for pain when it is needed does not mean that “later on,” there will be “nothing left” to treat the pain. There is a large arsenal of pain medications and techniques available to treat cancer pain and there is ALWAYS more that can be done to treat your pain.
- Excellent pain management is almost always the product of the thoughtful development of a pain management treatment plan. This plan, a road map of treatments and medications, is an excellent method of keeping track of what is and is not effective, and should be adjusted as needed. Cancer patients and health care professionals should work together to develop this plan, the cornerstone of effective pain management.
To people living with cancer, life is precious. When pain becomes part of each day, of one’s daily life, these days are diminished and quality of life is eroded.
The list of damage that pain does to quality of life includes:
- Sleep is disturbed.
- Ability to work is impaired.
- Exhaustion can become a constant companion.
- Sadness, depression and worry are commonly felt emotions.
- Appetite diminishes.
- Simple pleasures such as enjoying one’s family are impaired or given up.
- Trips and vacations are uncomfortable or impossible.
- Reluctance to move or exercise is experienced.
- Feelings of isolation from the world increase.
- Family and friends who are caregivers become exhausted.
Every cancer patient who has experienced unrelieved pain can provide his or her own list of the damage pain can do to one’s life.
Even if you believe that you, personally, can tolerate the pain you feel from cancer or cancer treatments, consider this: by living in pain, you are depriving those who love and care for you the full pleasure of your company. To continue to suffer, especially in light of the fact that very good quality of pain relief is available for almost all cancer pain, is not only hurting yourself, but also those who care for you.