Coping with pain and fatigue

Yoga class in a park

Coping with pain

Bone pain is common in people with myeloma. Although the bones affected can vary from one person to another, most people with myeloma experience pain in the middle or lower back, the hips, and the rib cage.

Tips to help reduce or cope with myeloma-related pain

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Take prescribed painkillers regularly, or as required

  • Try not to let the pain take hold before taking them, as they won’t be as effective.
  • If you find your painkillers are not providing the relief they should, go back to see your doctor or nurse. There are many different pain-relieving medications available.
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Be honest with your doctor or nurse about any pain you may be experiencing

  • Don’t feel like you have to put on a brave face. Remember, your medical team is there to help you!
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Learn to relax

  • Meditation, visualization, relaxation, or a combination of these can be helpful in relieving pain, when practiced regularly.
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Avoid worrying

  • Anxiety and stress can make pain worse.
  • Find time to talk about your fears and worries with people who are close to you, or with your doctor.
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Get a massage

  • A gentle massage can help relax you and relieve your pain.
  • Choose an experienced therapist and explain your situation to him or her.
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Take your mind off the pain with a pleasant distraction

  • Watch television or a favourite film, listen to music, chat with a friend, etc.
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Apply heat or cold

  • Hot water bottles and ice packs can be effective pain relievers.
    Wrap them in a towel before placing them on the skin.
  • The relief may be short-lived and you may need to alternate between hot and cold.
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Make yourself comfortable

  • The way you sit or lie down can affect your pain.
  • If you are uncomfortable, change positions or ask someone to help you, if required.
  • Consider comfort aids, like special v-shaped pillows for use in bed and when sitting.
Managing Pain & Fatigue

Learn more about managing fatigue in the Managing Pain and Fatigue InfoGuide.

Coping with fatigue

Fatigue or extreme ongoing tiredness is very common in people with myeloma. It can leave you too exhausted to do the things that matter to you. It can make it hard to think straight and leave you feeling like you’ll never get better.

Tips to help reduce or cope with fatigue

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Make sure you’re getting enough energy from the foods you eat.

  • In order to have that energy, your body needs iron to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. That’s why your diet should include iron-rich foods, such as spinach, red meat, and fortified bread and cereals.
  • You also need an adequate amount of vitamins, which you can get from fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Carbohydrates, like pasta, are a good source of quick energy.
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Try to get a little exercise every day.

  • Exercise (especially light exercise such as walking or swimming) can help you manage your fatigue.
  • If you don’t feel like walking, there are exercises you can do while sitting in your armchair. Lifting your arms and legs, rotating your ankles, and flipping your feet up and down from the ankle are just some examples.
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“Ration” your limited energy wisely throughout the day.
Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try to do the things that matter most to you each day and spread chores over a period of time.
  • Tell your family and friends that you don’t have the energy to do the things you used to do, and ask for their help.
  • Wear clothes that are easy to put on and take off, and sit down to get dressed.
  • Plan rest periods during the day.
  • Prepare food when you have the energy, and freeze meals for when you are too tired to cook.
  • Eat small quantities often and use ready-made meals or snacks when necessary.
  • Try to sit down while doing chores like ironing and preparing food.
  • Gather all the things that have to go upstairs and take them up with you when you go up to bed.
  • Do your shopping when stores are less busy and use a basket on wheels so you don’t have to carry heavy items.
  • Think about your sleeping patterns — getting enough sleep can help reduce fatigue.
    • Sleep for just as long as it takes to feel refreshed.
    • Get your body into a routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
    • Try to reduce noise in your bedroom.
    • Keep a steady temperature in your bedroom.
    • Have a bedtime snack, to avoid waking up hungry during the night.
    • Avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks during the evening.
      Limit your intake of alcohol.
    • Know how naps affect you — for example, if you sleep in the afternoon, will it keep you from sleeping at night?
  • Use relaxation techniques to help you get to sleep.
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Learn more about managing fatigue in the Managing Pain and Fatigue InfoGuide.