Upper back pain is generally a common symptom that usually provides insight into your current body condition. Cancer patients currently undergoing radiation therapy cancer treatment such as chemotherapy can have upper back pain either as a side effect of the treatment or as an indication that cancer has metastasized into the spine. In this case, proper management is required alongside cancer treatments.
So how is upper back pain managed when you have cancer? The management of upper back pain depends on what may be causing it – the spread of cancer or the treatment itself. It’s essential to have a thorough review of the important aspects of the current medical condition of a patient such as the types of medication they’re taking, their medical history, and overall cancer treatment plan to ensure the effectiveness of the upper back pain treatment.
Upper back pain is common, and millions of people experience it at least once in their lifetime. It’s not always something that should be a cause of concern because it’s commonly related to tissue damage due to injury, but in some cases, it can be a sign of a detrimental medical condition such as cancer.
Despite the diagnosis of upper back pain in cancer patients, most people usually ignore back pain because they assume that because upper back pain normally occurs as a complication or a side effect, then this should simply be accepted without any resolution. Whether it’s normal or unusual, upper back pain when a patient has cancer is a concern that requires immediate medical attention, especially if it’s worsening.
Cancer itself can cause pain in the affected area, and such referred pain can be felt in the upper back. Additionally, upper back pain usually occurs as a side effect of chemotherapy in the body. Chemotherapy is a kind of hormone therapy or steroid medication, which can affect the quality of the bones because it causes bone thinning. Consequently, when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the spinal canal, it can result in upper back pain.
Upper back pain doesn’t automatically entail cancer. In fact, it’s rare for upper back pain to indicate a cancer type. Although when you have cancer, or are undergoing cancer treatment, you can feel the different kinds of cancer-related upper back pain which can be:
Upper back pain from cancer requires due treatment. But before that, knowing what causes the upper back pain when you have cancer is important. Other than the condition itself and the treatment for it, upper back pain from cancer is also usually caused by the metastasis of the tumor in the spinal area. This usually happens in different kinds of cancers such as but not limited to, the following:
At least 25% of lung cancer patients report back pain as a symptom because of the pressure that the tumor (e.g, Pancoast tumor) in the lungs puts on the spine. This pressure affects the nerves around the chest wall and the spine, which can cause upper back pain.
To obtain a full perception of upper back pain when lung cancer patients have a lung cancer symptom, a healthcare provider may opt to run some tests to administer more effective treatments for pain associated with this cancer type. Such tests done on lung cancer patients may include:
Spinal tumors (i.e, vertebral tumors) involve abnormal growth of cells located in the spinal cord or spinal canal. Whether it’s a cancerous or benign tumor, a spinal tumor in the spinal column may cause pain. The pain experienced when spinal cancer patients have a spinal cord tumor may start gradually, which may worsen over time.
This kind of severe pain associated with spinal cord tumors is a common symptom that wouldn’t improve by simply resting or even simple pain medication. A spinal tumor requires proper and professional treatment schemes for disease control and pain management for the effective elimination of cancer pain.
The bone marrow is a spongy tissue that’s located at the center of some bones, which is responsible for the production of the body’s blood cells in the blood vessel system. When there are cancer cells in the bone marrow, this can affect several areas of the body including the spine and the ribs, such a condition is known as multiple myeloma because of the multiple areas of the body that it can affect.
Bone pain, which can lead to upper back pain is one symptom of multiple myeloma which affects the bones. This kind of bone pain caused by a vertebral tumor is usually characterized as a persistent dull ache, which may worsen with movement.
Pain from cancer usually requires the treatment of the condition itself. But not because upper back pain from cancer is a normal side effect of radiation therapy or a manifestation of metastatic tumors automatically means that it shouldn’t be a cause for concern or pain management treatment. Pain management is essential that even basic home remedies and physical therapy will do.
Pain management is important to improve one’s well-being and enhance the quality of recovery. But it’s essential to seek the services of a qualified pain specialist for this. The following are the pain treatment options at Gramercy Pain Center:
Cancer-related back pain is rare, but anyone experiencing changes or anything that’s a cause of concern (e.g, chronic pain, severe cancer pain) should consult with their doctor. Most of the time, upper back pain from a certain cancer type is relieved only through disease control, but you can opt to relieve yourself from it even temporarily to improve your cancer pain during treatment. For best results, only seek the services of a pain specialist.
To get the best care for upper back pain as patients undergo cancer treatment, consult with a pain specialist. For the best pain management techniques and personalized pain treatment plans, our pain doctors and spine specialists at Gramercy Pain Center can help you identify upper back pain and low back pain from its root and help you receive the necessary care and pain remedy that complements your treatment plan for cancer.
Consult with Dr. Varma or Dr. Valimahomed for different types of body pain like upper back pain, bone pain, lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and chest pain, and start your journey to faster pain recovery today.