Chronic pain can play spoilsport in our lives by affecting our job, daily routine, and relationships. The good news is that timely diagnosis and treatment can go a long way in eliminating this pain from our lives. The ideal chronic pain management aims at reducing or eliminating the need for pain medication and improving physical functioning. With the right treatment for chronic pain, you can lead a pain-free life.
Any pain that spans over a few months or around 12 weeks is called chronic pain. The cause of pain may be illness, injury, joint-related disease or overuse of joints. Gone are the days when you only surgical options were available for the treatment for chronic pain. Thanks to the medico-technological advancements, patients now have numerous treatment options for dealing with chronic pain.
Types of chronic pain
Chronic pain can occur in different locations of the body and for a variety of reasons. The most common type of chronic pain occurs due to injuries. This injury may be sports-related or caused by accident. Back pain is another common type of chronic pain. Lower and upper back pain may result from incorrect posture, extended hours of sitting or standing, or damage to the spine.
Joint pain due to arthritis or wear and tear of the joints are also some common types of chronic pain. Arthritis pain can occur at in joint of the body. Nerve-related issues may lead to diseases or illnesses that cause other types of pain.
Non-surgical treatment options for chronic pain
The right choice of treatment for chronic pain depends on its cause. Doctors evaluate this pain based on the following factors:
Once they ascertain the parameters mentioned above, they will decide on the right treatment option. Pain management primarily focuses on minimizing the use of pain medication, improving physical flexibility, and strengthening the affected parts. Pain is a very subjective experience, and no test can determine the intensity of pain. Thus, the diagnosis of chronic pain is conducted based on the patient’s description of pain and their medical history.
Here are some of the top non-surgical treatment options for chronic pain:
- Physical exercise: Regular physical exercise is the best way to deal with chronic pain. An active lifestyle helps in preventing chronic back pain caused by joint stiffness. One can effectively manage injury-related chronic pain with the help of physical exercise. Exercises also help improve flexibility and strength. However, consult a qualified physician before starting physical exercise as a treatment option for chronic pain.
- Yoga: Yogic exercises help cleanse the body, and strengthen muscles and joints. Yoga stresses on strengthening the core muscles, which results in flexible, pain-free movement. Before starting a yoga regimen for managing chronic pain, it is advisable that you consult your doctor.
- Medication: If you’re experiencing intense pain, you can seek immediate relief from it through pain medication. Muscle relaxants and narcotic pain medications are the two main types of medicines that help patients deal with chronic pain. However, prolonged use of pain medication has many side effects. So, you must avoid self-medicating at all costs.
- Massage and manual manipulation: Massaging the area affected by chronic pain brings relief in many cases. Massage therapy is one of the oldest methods for relieving pain. Many types of massages are available, but all of them focus on alleviating discomfort. Massages are effective for muscle-related pain and not other types of chronic pain. Chiropractic manipulation is also quite helpful in providing relief from stiffness or pain in the spine and neck. These manipulations are effective for lower back pain and neck pain.
- Heat and cold therapy: Application of heat and cold alternatively on the affected area helps relieve pain without any side effects. Thus, this is a highly effective method to treat sports-related chronic pain.
- External support: Wearing back braces or neck collars provide support and relieve back and neck pain to a great extent. These supports prevent further damage to the parts affected by chronic pain.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture treatment is an age-old therapy option whose history goes back to around 2500 years. An acupuncture specialist inserts needles at specific points in the muscle tissue to treat chronic pain.
- Electrical stimulation: This method uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain. A small pulse generator is used to stimulate the nerves for providing relief from pain.
Several technological advancements in the field of medicine have introduced many non-surgical options for treating chronic pain. A detailed evaluation of the cause and intensity of chronic pain helps decide the right treatment for chronic pain. Non-surgical treatment options are best suited for certain types of chronic pain, while surgery is the best option for others.