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Chronic Pain: Non-Invasive Options for You

November 9th, 2015

Chronic Pain headache

By Dr. Grant Reffell

Chronic pain – generally defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months – is the leading cause of disability (pdf link) among people under the age of 45. It is also a leading cause of lost workplace productivity. In fact, chronic pain is such a widespread and costly problem that it affects more Americans than diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer, combined.

A pain management specialist will often consider prescribing an invasive treatment procedure, such as surgery, to combat chronic pain. If you have found these options to be unsuccessful for your chronic pain, consider the variety of non-invasive chronic pain treatments that are available at your local pain management clinic.

What are the top 3 causes of chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a categorical term that covers a wider variety of conditions. Each condition under this umbrella benefits from a different combination of treatment options. According to recent medical studies, these are the three most common types of chronic pain:

  • Back Pain – across the board, chronic back pain is the most common type of recurring pain. While this pain can be caused by an accident or injury, a growing number of back pain sufferers can’t trace the origins of their pain to a specific root cause.
  • Headache Pain – whether migraine or not, severe headache pain is the leading cause of lost productivity in American workplaces. An average of 3.5 hours of productivity per week is lost, due to headache pain.
  • Joint Pain – this form of chronic pain, often caused by arthritis, injury and accidents, can severely inhibit a person’s ability to function normally. As expected, joint pain sufferers often find even normal movement to be painful, not to mention more stringent physical activities like running, lifting and exercising.

Chronic pain can also strike areas of your body, such as your abdomen, chest, face or legs, but these forms of chronic pain are much less common than the top-three. If you are experiencing any long-lasting pain, make sure to schedule an appointment with a qualified pain management specialist.

What are my pain management treatment options?

Chronic pain covers so many types of physiological issues that it is difficult to provide an exhaustive list of every treatment option available. Many of the more common treatment options involve invasive procedures, like surgeries and injection regimens. These can have side effects as challenging as the chronic pain. That said, here are some of the non-invasive treatment options that your pain management specialist may be able to prescribe as part of your overall pain management and treatment plan.

Medications

Surprisingly, your pain management specialist might begin treatment with common over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-inflammatory medications, and/or topical pain-relief creams. These treatment options serve as diagnostic tools, helping the specialist to determine if your pain is caused by inflammation, nerve problems, or another issue. In cases of more extreme pain however, your specialist may prescribe narcotics to reduce the pain to a more manageable level. Of course, narcotic-based medications carry many side effects, including a risk of abuse and addiction, so this option is only exercised in more extreme cases.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapy options have become more popular in recent years. They can be effective at reducing the effects of many different types of chronic pain. Modern pain management therapies often fall into one of three categories: cognitive, behavioral, and physical.

  • Cognitive therapies help the chronic pain sufferer mentally strengthen themselves against the effects of the pain. Pain management specialists have noticed a relationship between patient outlook and the success of their treatment plan. People with a positive outlook generally experience greater pain treatment success. While individuals with a less positive outlook generally have a more difficult time. As such, cognitive therapies can help chronic pain sufferers have a better mental outlook, with the intent of making the overall treatment plan more successful.
  • Behavioral therapies help patients modify their lifestyle to better cope with their pain. Sample behavioral therapies involve relaxation techniques, biofeedback, and other coping techniques that help improve the symptoms of long-term, chronic pain.
  • Physical therapies involve modifying or manipulating the problem to relieve the issue that is causing chronic pain. Low-impact exercise regimens, massage, acupuncture, electrotherapies, among others, have shown various levels of success in different chronic pain patients. Before you begin any alternative therapies, be sure to have a discussion with your pain management specialist.

This short list of options is only intended to introduce you to the idea that invasive pain management treatments and medications are only a few of many available options to manage your chronic pain. Alternative treatment options have the ability to be a valuable part of your overall treatment plan. The next time you speak with your pain management specialist, discuss the variety of treatment options and therapies available for your specific case.

3 Responses to “Chronic Pain: Non-Invasive Options for You”

  1. 2EEd7nRA says:

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  2. 187938 908215Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch! 117420

  3. Thanks for publishing this. As someone who has experienced lower back pain from
    a auto accident I do a lot of research on web sites like this but I’ve never been obliged to leave a remark.
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    Thanks again for an excellent post!

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