Living with chronic pain can be profoundly challenging. It’s an invisible monster that lingers in the background of your life, making even the simplest tasks feel intimidating or even frightening.
Fortunately, there are numerous methods for managing chronic pain, including a handful of advanced medical pain procedures that have provided significant relief for many patients. Let’s take a closer look at some of the techniques that have proven to work effectively for a majority of sufferers.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Unlike acute pain, which is a normal sensation alerting us to possible injury, chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks. It may be steady or intermittent, coming and going without any apparent reason. It can range from mild to severe and can be felt in any part of the body.
There are different types of chronic pain including neuropathic pain (nerve pain), musculoskeletal pain (pain in muscles and bones), and inflammatory pain (pain caused by inflammation). Common causes of chronic pain include arthritis, migraines, natural degeneration of joints, nerve damage, and injuries that fail to heal properly.
Which Pain Procedures Actually Work?
There are several techniques used commonly in the management of chronic pain. These include medications, physical therapy, injections or nerve blocks, massage therapy, mindfulness and meditation, and surgery.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods and evaluate their effectiveness.
Doctors often use medication to help a patient find temporary relief from pain. These drugs can be prescribed or purchased over the counter (OTC), and may sometimes contain an opioid, which blocks pain signals and produces other effects, such as euphoria and relaxation.
Opioids are commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as pain from surgery, cancer, and injuries. While they can be highly effective at reducing pain, they are also very addictive and can lead to overdose and even death.
The pain relief from medications usually lasts only a few hours. The types of medications medical providers typically turn to are divided into the following categories:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and relieve mild to moderate pain
- Steroids are often used for acute or chronic conditions associated with inflammation
- Antidepressants are not only useful for depression but also for chronic neuropathic pain
- Anti-seizure medications are often effective in treating neuropathic pain
Physical therapy exercises can help improve mobility and relieve pain, particularly for people with conditions like arthritis. This form of treatment can be very effective in reducing pain, but it often takes weeks or months to see a noticeable reduction in a patient’s chronic pain. Physical therapy is often recommended in combination with another pain management treatment.
Injections or Nerve Blocks
Trigger point injections, steroid injections, and nerve blocks are minimally invasive procedures that deliver medication directly to the nerves that are causing pain. This can provide relief from pain, inflammation, and other symptoms due to conditions such as arthritis, back and neck pain, headaches, or pain from cancer and other diseases.
Many patients find steroid injections and nerve blocks to be very effective in reducing their pain, and the relief may last days, weeks, or even months. Keep in mind that results can vary widely for each individual.
Massage therapy works to reduce pain in a number of ways, including increasing blood circulation, relaxing muscles, releasing endorphins, and reducing stress. It’s a generally safe treatment, provided your practitioner is trained and qualified. The relief from massage therapy can be very helpful yet temporary.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Meditation is a mind-body practice that involves focusing your attention on the present moment. It has been shown to be effective for a variety of health conditions, including pain. There are many different types of meditation, but they all share the common goal of training your attention. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that involves focusing your attention on your breath and body sensations.
Studies have shown that these techniques provide a small decrease in pain intensity for a majority of patients, while long-term mindfulness (8 weeks or longer) can provide more significant relief.
In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of chronic pain. While surgery is often a last resort and comes with risks, it can be the answer to helping some patients’ chronic pain go away.
Personalizing Pain Management
When it comes to pain procedures, what works for one person may not work for another. Personalizing your pain management with your care provider is the key to finding the best results.
Factors such as age, overall health, severity and type of pain, and personal preference all affect the effectiveness of pain procedures. Work closely with your healthcare provider to create a treatment plan that leads to the best possible outcome.
Get Advanced Pain Procedures From HPM
Chronic pain can feel like a life sentence, but it doesn’t have to be. HPM is one of the country’s leading providers of pain management services. Our highly trained specialists invest time in identifying the true source of your pain and provide the most effective procedure available.
HPM operates pain management clinics in rural towns across the U.S. Find a location near you and let us help you get your life back.