Effective Treatments for Chronic Pain Symptoms

Effective Treatments for Chronic Pain Symptoms

It affects all age groups and ethnicities and has a dramatic impact on quality of life. The majority of sufferers are in pain for at least 12 hours a day, despite treatment. People with chronic pain are more likely to experience depression and suicidal thinking. Four out often pain suffers cannot take of their children. Many cannot work or need a caretaker.

 

Recent studies show that prescription drugs reduce, but often don’t eliminate, symptoms. This means patients live with some degree of pain.

What causes chronic pain?

Chronic pain is any pain that lasts six months or longer. It often leads to additional symptoms like sleeplessness, fatigue, mood disorders, and social isolation. As a result, providers cannot treat all patients with the same approach. Chronic pain has a variety of causes. The most common include:

  • Headache
  • Lower back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Shingles
  • Nerve damage or injury

How is chronic pain treated?

Medications for chronic pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and opioid drugs. NSAIDs include ibuprofen and acetaminophen, which are available over-the-counter without a prescription. The stress of chronic pain often causes depression and anxiety. Emotional distress makes the pain worse. As a result, antidepressants can also improve symptoms.

The most common treatment is opioid drugs. Opioid use for pain management sky-rocketed in the 1990s. The United States prescribes 3 times as many opioids as European countries, but pain control is not any better. In fact, studies show that opioids do not work better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for some types of pain.

Opioid and drug abuse is a growing problem. Pill abuse killed over 14,000 people in 2014. But doctors continue to prescribe over 219 million opioid prescriptions a year.

Opioids can make your pain worse

Why are opioids so dangerous? Many people develop drug tolerance within 4 to 6 weeks. This means that your body becomes used to the drug, and you must take a higher dose to get relief. Long-term use can increase pain sensitivity, making pain worse. These drugs also cause side effects, including constipation, headache, and fatigue.

Drug-free pain management

Doctors are looking for new ways to address the pain and opioid crisis. The National Institute of Health (NIH) developed the National Pain Strategy using the best research and scientific evidence to date. The plan recommends the use of alternative, drug-free treatments in addition to medication. In fact, these treatments used alone may provide more relief than prescription drugs. Below is a list of effective treatments for chronic pain:

Acupuncture

  • back pain
  • osteoarthritis of the knee

Massage therapy:

  • Neck pain
  • back pain

Relaxation techniques:

  • Severe headaches
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia

Spinal manipulation

  • Back pain

Yoga

  • Back pain

Working with providers

Chronic pain is a debilitating condition. Many lose hope when opioid drugs or muscle relaxants are not effective or stop working. Complementary therapies can offer relief without the risk of addiction or serious side effects. Patients should ask their provider what alternative therapies are available for pain management.

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