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NCI-CONNECT Rare Brain & Spine Tumor Network
 

Body Pain

Person holding back and head in pain
Credit: iStock

What is Body Pain

Pain is an unpleasant feeling in your body that causes physical discomfort. Everyone experiences and expresses pain differently. Pain is a common symptom and can be caused by a brain or spine tumor, medications used to treat side effects, or treatment. Pain can suppress the immune system, increase the time it takes your body to heal, interfere with sleep, and affect your mood. 

  • Localized pain: can range from discomfort to an intense ache in a muscle or joint located in a specific part of your body you can point to in your face, arms, legs, or feet. 
  • Radiating pain: is a sharp, shooting, stabbing, burning or electrical sensation that can travel down your neck, arm, back, buttock, or leg.

Ways to Manage Body Pain

Pain is not something that you have to “put up with.” Tracking your pain can help you and your doctor develop a plan to manage it.

Pain Tracker

When tracking, include:

  • Location of pain
    • Where is the pain located? 
    • Does it hurt in one place or many places?
  • Type of pain
    • What words would you use to describe your pain?
      • Examples: burning pain, sharp stabbing, tingling, loss of function.
    • Do you also feel numbness and/or tingling?
  • Timing of the pain
    • When did the pain start?
    • How long does it last? 
    • Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
    • Are there certain body positions or movements that cause the pain, such as bending over or turning?
  • Related symptoms
    • What, if anything, makes the pain worse?
    • What, if anything, makes the pain better?
    • Are you feeling weak in the affected area of pain?

Some self-care activities you can do to improve your pain can include diet, exercise, sleep, or medication

  • Avoid alcohol if taking medications for pain. Some pain medications can cause constipation. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Talk with your doctor or care team about physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, music therapy, guided imagery or massage therapy possibly being part of your pain management program. 

When to Report Body Pain

Connect with your doctor and discuss any concerns you have. Share your logged symptoms and self-care activities with them.

  • Ask your doctor when and how to report your symptoms to them. 
  • Tell your doctor if you notice you are having trouble doing tasks you used to be able to do, especially getting dressed, standing up, sitting down, getting in and out of your bed or a car. 
  • Report if you develop new pain, your pain gets worse, if your pain is severe (>7), or pain does not improve from your self-care activities.

Ask your doctor what you should do in the case of an emergency and when your pain should be reported urgently. This may include sudden worsening of your pain, sudden loss of strength or sensation, ability to walk or difficulty controlling when you go to the bathroom. 
 

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