Mesothelioma pain can be dull or sharp, aching or tingling, burning or pounding, or any other number of descriptions. Symptoms associated with the pain may range from sweating, numbness, and dizziness, to tension, nausea, and rapid pulse. The intensity of the pain is often measured by how it interferes with the patient’s daily life.
There are at least three distinctive types of pain suffered by those with malignant mesothelioma.
Somatic pain originates in the skin, bone, and muscle, and is what most people consider to be “normal” pain. Usually, it is localized, and described by patients with terms such as aching, sharp, pressure, or stinging. Dominant somatic pain complaints of mesothelioma patients are:
- Pleural Mesothelioma – pressure or sharp pain in the chest, under the rib cage, or upper abdomen
- Pericardial Mesothelioma – pressure in the chest
- Peritoneal Mesothelioma – aching, pressure, or fullness in the abdominal area
- Testicular Mesothelioma – swelling at the back of the testicle (Epididymitis), which can cause pressure and scrotal discomfort (due to a lump)
Visceral pain refers to pain generated in the internal organs. Unlike somatic pain, visceral pain is not well localized, making it difficult to determine the source of the pain. For example, angina pain from the heart can radiate to the jaw or left arm. Pleural mesothelioma patients often experience visceral pain. Dominant visceral pain complaints of pleural mesothelioma patients include:
- Stabbing or sharp pains in the shoulder or arm
- Throat pain, making it difficult to swallow
Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nerves. This can result in pain from stimuli that should not be painful (i.e. a light touch, something cold hitting the skin, or a sheet touching the feet). In addition, certain sensations may be completely lost, resulting in numbness and pain. In mesothelioma patients, neuropathic pain may be experienced as an electrical shock sensation, shooting pain, or burning. However, this type of pain is most often caused by treatment medications.
Once your doctor has an accurate description of the type, symptoms, and intensity of the pain the patient is experiencing, he or she can make the best selection of medication, determine the route of administration, and define the appropriate rate of dose adjustment in an effort to mitigate the pain being experienced by the patient.
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