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What else should we be doing for pain?

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My mom has been hospitalized for the second time in two weeks for pain (back and legs). They have her now on 80mg of oxycontin with morphine and something else for breakthrough pain but even this is not working. They are trying to do an MRI to determine the cause of the pain but she won't do it without sedation so it is taking longer than we want.

Is this normal to be in excrutiating/debilitating pain with cancer all the time? At most she has 1-2 hours of relief at a time. Should I be demanding more of the doctors? They seem to be trying to help but should they be doing more? Any advice and prayers are so appreiciated. It's killing us to watch her like this. Thanks

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When it comes to cancer, I don't think there's such a thing as 'normal'. People experience pain in varying degrees depending on their own circumstances. My husband had almost no pain.

However, in my opinion, pain is unacceptable. Yes, I believe the doctors should be doing more. I would insist that they make your mom comfortable. However, please understand that their are side effects associated with pain management, especially for those that haven't had much exposure to opiates. Pain medications can cause nausea, constipation, and drowsiness.

I will be wishing for comfort for both you and your mom.


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Is there a pain management clinic at your hospital? If so, ask for a referral. For what it is worth, we had another member here in extreme pain which narcotics didn't touch and what worked for him were Advil gel caps -- so you never know. Try something over the counter too.

I hope she gets relief soon.


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I would echo that there is no such thing as normal with cancer. That being said, you should definitely demand that more be done to relieve your mom's pain. If her oncologist isn't stepping up, request a referral from a pain specialist, particularly a palliative care specialist. Sometimes it takes a particular med to do the trick but they should not stop trying until they've found something that works.

Just be aware that the higher the dose of any narcotic pain relief the more likely that your mom will be "out of it" for longer periods. It can also have an effect on her breathing so you may want to ask about oxygen.

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