Honors Program


Date of this Version

Summer 6-20-2022

Document Type



Jiang, Y. (2022) Investigating the Physiological Mechanisms Between Resistance Training and Pain Relief in the Cancer Population: A Literature Review. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Copyright Yvonne Jiang 2022


This literature review examines the mechanisms of how exercise, specifically in the form of resistance training, may lead to pain relief in the cancer population. Primary data from three different cancer populations -breast, prostate, and lung- will be examined. A number of experimental studies have been conducted to confirm the effectiveness of resistance training on pain relief as well as the biochemical pathways that relate to this process. In this review, we will examine 5 randomized controlled trials. For the purposes of this review, pain is defined as physical suffering or discomfort associated with illness. Pain is the body’s natural signal, bringing attention to damage that has been sustained by tissues. However, chronic pain is common in the cancer population, and often serves no good purpose but instead will negatively impact both physical and mental health. The three types of pain: nociceptive, neuropathic, and inflammatory pathways have been investigated, and the knowledge of pain mechanisms allows for the understanding of how it is associated with pain. The purpose of this exploratory literature review is to give insight on how to maximize pain-relieving effects of resistance training. Research has indicated that resistance training modulates pain pathways by up-regulating the release of pain-relieving substances including beta-endorphins, anti-inflammatory cytokines, and endocannabinoids. Understanding of the benefits of resistance training may be useful in relieving cancer pain, and reproducing effects of pain-relieving strategies while minimizing the symptoms related to cancer and its treatment.