Role of rehabilitation medicine and physical agents in the treatment of cancer-associated pain

Andrea L. Cheville, Jeffrey R. Basford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose: To provide an overview of rehabilitation medicine- and physical modality-based approaches to cancer pain management, and to highlight the fact that these approaches are generally used in conjunction and that a majority are focused on minimizing pain during periods of mobility and the performance of activities of daily living. Methods: We performed a nonsystematic literature review and provide a description of the current standard of care. Results: Rehabilitative and physical modalities used to manage pain can be grouped into four categories: those that modulate nociception, stabilize or unload painful structures, influence physiological processes that indirectly influence nociception, or alleviate pain arising from the overloading of muscles and connective tissues that often occurs after surgery or with sarcopenia in late-stage cancer. Most modalities have been pragmatically refined over the years, and many have an evidence base, although few have been explicitly validated in the oncologic setting. With few exceptions, they are patient controlled and free of adverse effects. Conclusion: Physical modalities and rehabilitation medicine offer a range of pain management approaches that may serve as beneficial adjuncts to the conventional systemic and interventional analgesic strategies used to control cancer-related pain. These approaches may be particularly beneficial to patients with movement-associated pain and those who are ambivalent regarding pharmacoanalgesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1691-1702
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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