Yes. Pain cannot be felt if the nerve pathways that relay pain
impulses to the brain are interrupted. To block these pathways, a
neurosurgeon may cut a nerve close to the spinal cord (
) or cut bundles of nerves in the spinal cord
When the nerves that transmit pain are destroyed, the
sensations of pressure and temperature can no longer be felt.
Therefore, after these operations, patients ate more likely to
injure the affected area because they no longer have the protective
reflexes of pain, pressure, or temperature.
What Are Nerve Blocks?
When certain substances are injected into or around a nerve,
that nerve is no longer able to transmit pain. A local anesthetic,
which may be combined with cortisone, provides temporary pain
relief. For longer lasting pain relief, phenol or alcohol can be
injected. A nerve block may cause muscle paralysis. Loss of all
feeling in the affected area is a frequent side effect of a nerve
What Is Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS)?
This is a technique in which mild electric currents are applied
to selected areas of the skin by a small power pack connected to
two electrodes. The sensation is described as a buzzing, tingling,
or tapping feeling. The small electric impulses seem to interfere
with pain sensations. The current can be adjusted so that the
sensation is pleasant and relieves the pain. Pain relief lasts
beyond the time that the current is applied. Your doctor or a
physical therapist can tell you where to get a TENS unit.
Can Alcohol Help Relieve My Pain?
Drinking alcohol sometimes can provide pain relief, increase
appetite, reduce anxiety, and help you sleep. Drinking small
amounts of alcoholic beverages with meals or in the evening may be
beneficial for you. Ask your doctor's advice before you start using
alcohol, because it is dangerous to combine alcohol with certain
Will Marijuana Relieve My Pain?
No. The pain-relieving effects of marijuana are not consistent.
Marijuana has been reported to reduce anxiety or control nausea so
that the person in pain feels better. However, some cancer patients
have reported that smoking marijuana increased their pain. At this
time, marijuana is not legally available.
What About Acupuncture for Pain Relief?
, special needles are inserted into the body at
certain points and at various depths and angles. Particular groups
of acupuncture points are believed to control specific areas of
pain sensation. The procedure has been used as an anesthetic in
China and elsewhere to treat many types of pain, but its usefulness
for cancer patients has not been proven. Most doctors believe that
it is not harmful as long as the needles are sterile. Acupuncture
should not be used for patients who are getting chemotherapy
because of the danger of increased bleeding where the needles are
Can Hypnosis Help?
No one knows how
works to control pain. Hypnosis is a trance-like
state that can be brought on by a person trained in special
techniques. During hypnosis, a person is very receptive to
suggestions made by the hypnotist. To relieve pain, the hypnotist
may suggest that pain will be gone when the person "wakes up." Some
cancer patients have learned methods of self-hypnosis that they use
to control pain. However, it's hard to predict when hypnosis will
work for pain relief.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a