Complementary methods of pain control for mesothelioma
Complementary therapies is the term for treatment approaches which, although not currently a part of conventional medical practice, have been found helpful in managing pain. Complementary procedures enable patients to develop their spiritual and psychological strengths as important tools of pain management.
Many people with mesothelioma have used these approaches to manage their pain, reduce their suffering, and increase their enjoyment of their lives. Some of the most effective therapies are listed below. You may want to discuss these with members of your pain management team.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, MBSR
This approach to dealing with pain teaches paying close attention to your experience in the present moment, whatever that experience is. It draws on aspects of meditation, yoga, and relaxation to help people mobilize their own strengths to manage their pain and reduce their suffering. Many cancer centers now offer courses in MBSR.
Everyone's experience of pain is significantly influenced by fear and anxiety, and muscle tension can increase pain. Practicing relaxation helps mesothelioma patients let go of fears and anxiety for a while, and reduce muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation involves paying close attention to muscles groups, tensing and relaxing them at will. The ability to practice this technique can significantly reduce muscle tension, and patients who practice relaxation frequently report a reduction in pain, and a reduction in their need for pain medication. Many cancer centers offer classes in progressive relaxation as part of their pain management program.
Hypnotherapy is another approach to improving your ability to manage your own sensations. People vary in their ability to practice self-hypnotic techniques, but with practice most people can develop sufficient skills to make use of self-hypnosis to reduce their pain. Your pain management team can teach self-hypnotic techniques, or refer you to a professional who can do so.
Focusing your attention away from the pain, especially toward something that you enjoy doing, can provide a measure of relief. Activities that involve working with your hands, like knitting, building models, or painting, can be particularly useful. Distraction helps with breakthrough pain, and with waiting for a pain medication to kick in.
Deep breathing sends a powerful signal to the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system to relax. Focusing on your breathing, keeping it slow and deep and regular, can be both a distraction from pain and a tool for relaxation. Training in meditation, self hypnosis, and relaxation all teach the use of breathing for pain management.