Let's talk about pain management - Chronic Pancreati...

Chronic Pancreatitis Support

Let's talk about pain management

Sofia_MC profile image
Sofia_MCPartner

Chronic abdominal pain is a main symptom of chronic pancreatitis. While there is no cure, there are many different techniques that have helped patients deal with their pain.

Here are five pain management strategies that have helped pancreatitis deal with their pain, based on expert recommendations:

-Psychological therapies can help reduce pain intensity, pain frequency, disability and anxiety

-Apps can teach self-management techniques. WebMAP Mobile is free and available for both children and adults

-Medications and medical procedures like analgesics, medical marijuana or pancreatic 'rest' have reduced pain for some patients

-Opioids can provide relieve during flares

-Alternative therapies such as meditation have helped some patients deal with their chronic pain

Check out more free resources: mission-cure.org/for-patien...

What has helped you deal with your pain?

11 Replies

I find that a warm bath can help

madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to Cindy73

I’m with you on that one! 🛀

KarenB12 profile image
KarenB12Ambassador

Thanks, Sofia. What a hot topic for PC patients!

Disregarding my rocky path to pain management, I'll just add what's worked for me, other than prescription meds.

First on the list has been medical marijuana. I was taking oxycontin, 80mg. twice a day a little over 2 years ago. (I'd been on that dose for 12 years) Since then, with the help of MJ I've been able to gradually decrease and finally - 6 months ago - get off that med completely!

I still have to rely on oxycodone for breakthrough pain, but the weed has been unbelievably helpful. I've narrowed down some strains that specifically help my pain - nausea, lack of appetite, etc. Some are better at one thing than another. There are ones that give me the energy I need on days I feel fatigued. A strain that helps with my carpal tunnel issues, you can even get strains that are pure CBD - no THC, so you get all that pain-relieving goodness without the 'high' associated with marijuana.

I have 2 CBD strains that have really helped with the pain without the high THC (what gets you high) content and they're pretty much all I need on a good day.

It's helped me cut my insulin levels in half. I'm so much more relaxed (not lazy!) and a relaxed body hurts less than a tense one. :)

I'll 2nd Cindy73's comment. Baths, especially hot baths are a wonderful therapy for pain. Back when I was having bi-monthly attacks, there were always times where I had to try to cope at home. Some nights the only things that got me through were hot baths.

It's a distraction therapy, but there are some other benefits as well. A good dose of Epsom salts and some essential oils are nice additions.

For me, it's making the water as hot as I can stand. I try to stay in at least 30 minutes, but when the pain's bad, it's not possible to stay still that long. So I may take 4-6 baths through the night, each time waiting until the pain warranted it. It would calm my pain to a degree for approx. 30 minutes. Fifteen, if it was really bad. But those moments of lesser pain are what saved my sanity during my worst years.

Meditation is another tool in my toolbox. Practicing being mindful has helped in many areas of my life.

Acupressure helps. I've always wanted to try acupuncture but haven't yet.

Aromatherapy can help. Not only in directing my attention, but in the smells of the oils themselves.

I'm also a huge believer in herbal oils. Rubbed into the temples, lymphnodes, soles and stomach area calm the body.

Anything that brings you comfort! Pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, favorite chairs, favorite clothing, pictures, letters, whatever you own that puts a smile on your face. Things that make you feel comfortable and secure.

Like pets, (especially pets!) Just being able to vent to someone has been extremely therapeaudic. My pups are seasoned listeners and they always know instinctively what to do when I'm hurting.

If you aren't allergic and don't mind the taste, a cup of fresh ginger tea is calming. Often just the ceremony or concentration of a routine, like making tea, can be relaxing.

Anything that calms & relaxes me. I stay away from anything that tenses my body/muscles.

If nothing else, (or often first choice) I put on the tv and try to get involved. It usually doesn't take long to find an old movie or something to hold my interest. That can help for an hour or two.

There's little I haven't tried, but this list seems to be my go-to. I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sshe profile image
Sshe in reply to KarenB12

Thank you for all of these!! I'm still relatively new to CP (4 years) so it's really good to learn and hear more.

I have narcotics to take when the pain gets too bad, but I'm one of those people that has really bad side effects with them, so I only take them when it's a choice between treating at home or heading to the ER.

Otherwise, I swear by a heating pad (there's one in nearly every room of the house!) and going on a liquid-only diet if I feel a flare-up coming. I'm fortunate that I haven't progressed to a stage of constant pain yet. I hope every day that it's a long long time until I get there.

I used to avoid movement when the pain would threaten or start up, but I've found a trainer who helps get me moving in gentle ways that keep me from tensing up and making it worse.

Like you, Karen, I'm a big fan of tea too! I've found this blend through David's Tea (le digestif, I think it's called) that really soothes my stomach and calms me. Ginger and turmeric are part of my daily routine at this point.

I wish there were studies around medical marijuana and CP. I sometimes use a tincture to sleep, but haven't tried it for pain. I know that narcotics keep me out of the ER with 99% of my attacks, so I'm hesitant to try anything else. But if cannabis would be just as, or more, effective then I'd love to switch!

KarenB12 profile image
KarenB12Ambassador in reply to Sshe

Thanks for the additions, Sshe They're all good ones, things I do and have done. I completely forgot about the heating pad! Nice :)

Turmeric! Super happy to hear that!

I'm also glad to hear that (it sounds as though) you have a dr. who understands your need for narcotics. That is the number one hump for PC patients in my experience.

And liquids - definitely! Clear broth or clear liquids are a must if you're trying to abstain from going to the ER. I finally realized I could handle more than I originally thought, I could actually get through a lot of my attacks on my own, (with doc's permission, of course) I was ecstatic!

Sticking to light, no-sugar, lower-fat foods for a few days afterward will help. Even jello if you can handle it. Easing the body back into eating can help with a lot of the pain.

Of course, if you're taking ginger & turmeric, I bet you already have a fairly healthy diet & lifestyle.

Thank you for sharing those tips!

If you're interested in finding out more about cannabis and pain, there have been some great studies. One place that shares many of them is NORML Here's a link to their page on research from the website:

norml.org/marijuana/library...

I hope you find it helpful. MJ won't work for everyone, I'm sure, but it certainly has helped me manage my pain and everything else that goes along with PC. Most notably, nausea. There are some great meds out there for nausea. I have one that is taken sublingually and it works almost instantly.

The problem is, it only lasts an hour or so. Although the doc has assured me they are 'completely harmless' (is anything, really?) and that I can take them as often as needed (within reason) I still hate popping a chemical in my mouth multiple times a day.

(that's just me, not speaking for everyone)

I've found that cannabis is just or almost as effective, it is nearly as quick, and I've fine-tuned it to a couple of specific strains that are low THC but high CBD so I don't get 'stoned' when I need to function at top level. But it kicks the nausea and for a much longer a period of time. If anything, it makes me hungry. 😆

Not entirely bad since I've had some other issues. I've lost over 60 lbs in the last year and am looking like a skeleton of my former self. Not to bore you, but... (famous last words, right?) 😃They found it was a slow-emptying stomach. So in that regard, it is entirely connected to the PC - Diabetes - Digestion Issues cycle.

Because of that, I try to pick my strains more carefully, as some will slow down digestion more depending on the makeup of the cannabinoids - different terpenes, etc.

Regardless, it has been awesome for nausea. And on other days, when the pain that comes along with it is too bad, I'll even medicate early in the morning -usually with higher THC - so I can get all the benefits.

So, appetite stimulation, nausea, pain, what else...

MOOD - I'll be the first to admit that when I hurt, I'm not a pleasant person to be around. Self-reality-check, yup, it's a fact. I can be downright miserable. Not intentionally, or even hurtfully, but the way the rest of the world (my family and immediate surroundings) must 'rearrange' their lives to accommodate me, makes me miserable to be around.

I know it's hard on my husband. He does more work, more housecleaning, more meal-making, more hand-and-foot waiting (if needed, although, he does tend to do that often anyway) :) He has to give the dogs more attention. I mean I could list all day.

The same goes for my pups (who are like children to me) They each react to me differently when I'm sick.

I can't go out and be sociable. Not that I do much of that anyway. I'd be a hermit if I wasn't married 😂

But you get the drift. Cannabis has SAVED THE DAY in the 'better mood' dept. And yes, that's even when I'm writhing in pain. (Ok, that might be a little dramatic) When I hurt pretty bad.

At least I can laugh at the situation. My husband finds me more fun to be around. I don't get depressed like I used to. And my dogs all like me ♥

That's just my short 😲 list.

I haven't tried David's Tea - I'll check it out. Thanks!

Sorry, I truly don't mean to make every post a novel, (although I am a writer) it's just easy to talk here. I know no matter what I'm feeling, someone here understands. That's not always the case out there in the real world.

So thank you all for being there for me.

Sshe profile image
Sshe in reply to KarenB12

Honestly, Karen? I could sob with finding this group and people like you. I don't know anyone else in "real life" that has CP and only my mom who has EPI like me. It's impossible trying to explain how it effects literally every second of your day! Thank you for replying so thoughtfully.

Is it Zofran you have for anti-nausea? One of the myriad of docs I've seen gave me that, but I really only deal with nausea when an attack is coming on or happening. I've had meh luck with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't touch the nausea.

Thank you for the info on marijuana. I'll definitely look more into it and talk to the staff at my local store!

And I completely get you on the mood thing! Some days are super tough. Laughter really is the best way to get through it though. And cannabis can definitely help with that too :)

60 lbs is a lot! I've been relatively stable for the last couple years and put on a few pounds since I was at that skeletal phase. CP definitely isn't doing my wrinkles any favors, but I find I care much less about them then I did a few years ago ;)

Stay healthy and full of laughter. It's really great to connect with you here!

madonbrew profile image
madonbrewPioneer in reply to Sshe

Hi Sshe, I’m really glad you found this site! I too don’t know anyone else in real life with pancreatitis! It’s such a relief to chat to others who understand!

The nausea is terrible isn’t it…when the pain is so intense it just triggers off the nausea I find 😕…I think it’s that way round!

I have only had morphine and pethidine …cannabis is not a legalised drug here in the uk medicinally…possibly just for MS…not sure!

Heat…a hot water bottle can relieve a bit and definitely sitting up not lying down. And resting the weary pancreas…giving it a few days off can help sometimes I find.

Sshe profile image
Sshe in reply to madonbrew

It's great to meet you here!

I definitely know what you're talking about with pain causing nausea :( That's when it's the worst for me! And yes, sitting up is always better.

Susaberry profile image
Susaberry in reply to Sshe

What sort of. exercises does your trainer have you do? I wear a .25 fentanyl patch for pain. I hate having to use it. Medical marijuana is approved in Georgia. I have a card. However, it’s illegal to buy it. One has to go out of state to buy it. Yet it’s illegal to bring it into the state. Go figure. The state government just approved 6 licenses to grow it. I’m eager to try it and dump the patch.

Pain management is such a complex issue. I use several things to manage pain. I take Oxyconton 2x/day and percocet for break through pain. (One of my doctors wanted me to try medical marijuana, but my insurance would not cover it.) Liquid diet helps at times. I finally sleep all night by taking phenergen at night. (Nausea used to wake me up at night.) Every three weeks I get a liter of IV fluids and a toradol shot. Often I'll distract myself when I have pain... some kind of craft, puzzles, knitting, origami, ... anything to get my mind off of the pain. I do limit my activities... if I'm too active the pain increases. I've been fortunate that my doctors are supportive and do what can be done. It's just medicine has not learned how to effectively treat chronic pancreatitis. I don't like seeing new doctors, because a normal abdominal examine is very painful and hurts for hours after the exam. It's taken time to learn what works. Just taking life one day at a time. I am permanently disabled because of chronic pancreatitis.

Sofia_MC profile image
Sofia_MCPartner

Flandy The replies in this thread are insightful!

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