Exercise Can Help Eease Pain for People with Cancer

Exercise Can Help Eease Pain for People with Cancer
Fecha de publicación: 
17 February 2024
Imagen principal: 

Engaging in intense exercise might not be the first thing that people fighting cancer think to do, but a new studyTrusted Source reports that a workout can help ease cancer-related pain.

“It may feel counterintuitive to some, but physical activity is an effective, non-pharmacologic option for reducing many types of pain,” said Dr. Erika Rees-PuniaTrusted Source, a study senior author and the American Cancer Society’s senior principal scientist for epidemiology and behavioral research, in a press statement. “As our study suggests, this may include pain associated with cancer and its treatments.”

In the study published in the journal Cancer, Rees-Punia and Dr. Christopher T.V. Swain, first study author and a fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia, looked at 10,651 adults with a past cancer diagnosis and 51,439 adults without a history of cancer.

Participants were asked to rate their average pain level from 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable. They also were queried about their engagement in exercise.

The researchers reported that more physical activity was associated with lower pain intensity, whether or not individuals had a history of cancer.

Among those with a past cancer diagnosis, those exceeding the physical activity guidelinesTrusted Source established by the U.S. government — getting 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity — were 16% less likely to report moderate-to-severe pain compared to those who exercised less.

Less pain also was reported by those who were consistently active or became active as older adults compared to those who remained inactive, the researchers said.

“Cancer pain can be debilitating and most patients in palliative care, often require opioid-based pain medications like morphine just to get by,” Dr. Ryan Peterson, a pain medicine specialist and anesthesiologist at NuView Treatment Center, a Los Angeles-based addiction treatment program, told Medical News Today.

“While pharmacological interventions are good, I recommend non-pharmacologic therapies such as gradual exercise as tolerable when possible so as to prevent muscle atrophy and further pain. Exercise is also known to aid in the release of endorphins, which may be helpful in pain alleviation and tolerance,” said Peterson, who was not involved in the study.


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