There is an ever-growing variety of treatments for those suffering from chronic pain. There is the option of general medicine – oral and topical therapies – that can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may suggest non-medication pain relievers or even use alternative methods like acupuncture.
Occasionally, physicians will use interventional techniques that involve outpatient procedures or injections of various levels to treat pain. It is important to know and understand that if one type of treatment does not work, then your doctor will work with you to provide other forms of viable treatments. Treatments are not a “one size fits all” kind of thing so it is important to know that if something does not work for you, your doctor can develop a personalized plan to battle your chronic pain.
Common Treatment Options to Relieve Chronic Pain
Although rest alleviates pain, too much rest can actually increase pain and increase your risk of further injury. Stay active to help relieve pain from common conditions such as lower back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Exercise releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller – so as you exercise, you are helping your body diminish pain and build strength.
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy uses a low-voltage electrical current to block pain signals from going to the brain. Electrodes are placed on the skin near the affected area and the electrical stimulation is transmitted into the nerves, blocking “normal” pain signals.
Biofeedback is a machine-assisted technique that measures information about physical characteristics from a patient. It can capture data such as heart rate, brain activity, and body temperature to help enhance the patient’s awareness of how their body reacts to stress and pain. This helps patients learn how to manage physical and emotional pain due to chronic conditions.
Yoga incorporates a number of relaxation techniques such as breath control, meditation, and strength-training exercises. The combination of these techniques helps with chronic pain conditions like arthritis, headaches, back pain, and fibromyalgia. Yoga helps reduce the pain that is specific to stress-related conditions. The gentle movements of yoga help strengthen muscles without putting a strain on other parts of the body.
OTC Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen help relieve mild to moderate pain. The most common medications are Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. NSAIDs reduce inflammation and swelling. Your doctor will be able to suggest which type of OTC medication is best for your chronic pain. Taking pain relievers for long-term relief can cause negative side effects, so be sure to consult with a physician before taking anything.
Nerve Block Injections
Nerve block injections are primarily performed as outpatient procedures, but may be used on patients who are already hospitalized for other reasons. Often times, doctors will use contrast dye to determine the most accurate placement of the injection needle. There are a number of different types of injections: epidural steroid injections, facet joint injections, lumbar sympathetic block, celiac plexus block, as well as others.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy helps relieve pain by using specialized movements and techniques. PT helps restore range of motion, improve movement, and normal functions that have been impaired by injury, chronic pain, or a disability. Physical therapists utilize a variety of techniques to provide well-rounded care for their patients including stretching, strength-training, pain-relieving techniques, and sometimes TENS therapy. The goal is to help restore your quality of life and help patients get back to doing what they love.
- Mind-Body Relaxation Techniques
Mind-body therapies are techniques that are used to train the mind’s ability to positively affect pain and symptoms of the body. Many techniques include relaxation therapies such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, and mindfulness. Training the body to relax and release stress can reduce pain and discomfort from chronic conditions.
- Therapeutic Massage
Therapeutic massages help manage pain by reducing stress and relieving tension by increasing blood flow. Massages reduce the chemicals in your body that stimulate and sustain pain. Those who suffer from painful muscles, tendons, joints, and chronic back and neck pain can benefit from therapeutic massages. By applying pressure to certain areas of the body, it is possible to impede pain signals to and from the brain, although the effectiveness is still being researched.