It is important that you discus with your doctor about any complementary therapies you may be considering.
By focusing on their emotional and psychological wellbeing some patients have found that complementary therapies help alleviate symptoms and side-effects such as nausea and pain. Using complementary therapies can give you a feeling of control over your disease and treatment. Caregivers may find therapies aimed at reducing tension and promoting relaxation especially useful.
Complementary therapies can be used in addition to the treatments prescribed by your doctor. They should not be confused with alternative therapies, which are used instead of conventional treatment. There are many different types of complementary therapies and it is important to choose one that fits your needs best. Some of the more common types are:
Part of traditional Chinese medicine and uses the balance of the body's own life force to restore wellbeing. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that the body has a system of Chi (life force) which becomes unbalanced when someone is ill. Acupuncture needles are applied to areas where this flow has been blocked in order to restore balance and health. Acupuncture can be used to alleviate pain and sickness and to relax muscles.
The use of essential oils (concentrated plant oils) and massage to reduce stress and improve symptoms of anxiety. The scent and properties of different oils vary and a variety of oils are used to produce different results. It may be best to avoid using oils on the skin when you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy as the skin can become very sensitive, but lightly scented candles can be used to help with nausea and aid relaxation.
Used to relieve muscle pain and tension and can be both therapeutic and relaxing. A trained massage therapist will gently manipulate problem areas to ease tightened muscles and relieve pain. Remember to tell the massage therapist that you are a myeloma patient and that forceful massage could damage your bones.
A relaxing mental exercise which can help reduce anxiety, stress and pain. Breathing techniques and concentration are used to relax each part of the body in turn. Meditation can be used to aid sleep and relieve tension.
A specialised form of therapeutic foot massage based on the theory that different areas of the foot represent and are connected with the body's internal organs. Pressure is applied to different points on the sole of the foot to help relieve pain and sickness. This type of massage can be very relaxing.
An ancient form of healing which uses the body's own energy or life force to restore a sense of balance or calmness, release tension and reduce pain. The reiki healer will channel energy through their hands to various parts of your body. Although he or she will not actually touch you, you may feel sensations of heat, cold, vibration and tingling on the skin. You can be fully dressed while receiving reiki healing.
Involves the use of mental imagery while you are in a state of meditation or relaxation. It can be used as a relaxation tool or to reduce stress and anxiety. Picturing yourself within a peaceful scene can encourage you to feel more relaxed. Other forms of visualisation are more closely linked to the symptoms of illness: some patients imagine their immune system destroying the myeloma cells or visualise their blood counts coming up.
If you are thinking of using any of these therapies, you should look for a qualified, registered therapist who has experience of treating cancer patients. Always ask your therapist about their qualifications and previous experience. Many cancer centres offer complementary therapies (but not always free of charge) or can give you contact details of services available locally.
Myeloma Canada is affiliated with the International Myeloma Foundation, the world's oldest and largest myeloma organization
Myeloma Canada gratefully acknowledges the generous unrestricted educational grants from our website sponsors: