Exercise and Physical Therapy for Cancer Pain

Understand How Excersice Can Help Fight Your Cance Pain

As part of your cancer pain treatment plan, exercise and physical therapy are great additions. Why are they so important for managing cancer pain—and cancer? They can help you relieve cancer pain symptoms and feel better overall.

To get started with an exercise plan, work with a physical therapist or personal trainer who has the knowledge of working with people who have cancer and are experiencing cancer pain. And of course, have a conversation with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

In this Article

Physical Therapy and Cancer Pain
The goal of physical therapy is to relieve pain, increase range of motion, and restore muscle strength. Physical therapy will teach you to take good care of your body even after you leave the physical therapist's office.

There are 2 types of physical therapy treatments to help you manage cancer pain: passive and active.

For passive treatments, your physical therapist does most of the work. Examples of passive treatments are heat and cold therapy and massage. Another example of a passive treatment for cancer pain is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which is a small machine that sends electric currents to your nerves to help reduce your pain.

For active treatments, you do most of the work. An at-home exercise routine or taking an exercise class at your local gym are examples of active treatments.

If you haven't been active in a long time, physical therapy is a great way to start a regular exercise routine.

Work with a physical therapist to develop a treatment plan tailored to meet your needs. Your physical therapy plan will most likely include a combination of passive and active treatments, beginning with passive treatments so you're more prepared for the active treatments.

Exercise and Cancer Pain
Exercising with cancer pain doesn't have to be strenuous. In fact, simple exercises, such as walking, can be very beneficial in helping you manage cancer as well as cancer pain symptoms.

Exercise for cancer pain (and cancer):

  • boosts energy levels
  • decreases fatigue
  • helps you keep a healthy weight
  • relieves stress
  • strengthens muscles (especially important if you've lost muscle during cancer treatment)

A consistent, gentle workout routine for cancer pain is key; avoid doing high-impact exercises, such as heavy weight lifting, at least initially.

For a well-rounded exercise program, do a combination of aerobic, strengthening, and flexibility exercises. Focus on low-impact activities, and remember that a physical therapist or personal trainer can get you started on an exercise program. Exercise can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be.

There are numerous low-impact exercise options. For aerobic exercise, you can swim; for a strengthening exercise, you can do light weight lifting; and for a flexibility exercise, you can do yoga.

Try not to rush into exercise—there's no competition. Take your time, and then when your body is ready, gradually work up to incorporating exercise into your daily routine.

To make it easier on yourself, you can break your workout into smaller increments throughout the day. For example, if your goal is to exercise for 30 minutes a day, you can break it up into three 10-minute segments. Do what works for you.

It's normal to have some soreness after beginning an exercise routine, especially within the first few days. However, if your cancer pain gets worse or you develop new symptoms, stop exercising and call your doctor immediately. Don't ignore the pain.

Dealing with Cancer Pain
Exercise and physical therapy can be part of your overall cancer pain treatment plan. They teach you how to take care of your body—even long after your cancer treatment is over.

Updated on: 11/18/15
Continue Reading:
Coping with Cancer Pain