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Exploring Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

by Dr Prem Community Writer
Chronic Pain

Nearly 11% of Americans suffer from chronic pain. And over 25 million American adults have experienced some form of pain on a daily basis for three months or more. With these statistics, it’s no surprise that millions of people are seeking relief and treatment for their chronic pain. Not only can pain be physically debilitating, but it can also impact a person’s cognitive function over time and lead to other emotional issues. This article will discuss how chronic pain effects sufferers and what treatment options are available.

The Physical Effects of Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain

Depending on where the pain is located, people suffering from chronic pain and discomfort can have a difficult time performing simple, everyday tasks. These include, but are not limited to: 

       Driving

       Walking

       Sitting

       Standing

       Sleeping

These physical effects often cause people to take medical leave from work or quit their job all together. If it becomes too difficult for a person to move around, they may avoid leaving their home. This can lead to feelings of isolation and even depression, which are just two of the social and emotional side effects of chronic pain.

The Emotional Effects of Chronic Pain

Being in pain for a prolonged period of time is very taxing on both the mind and body. When people suffer from chronic pain, they begin to feel discouraged and defeated. This often happens when they fail to find relief in medications, therapy or alternative options. Pain sufferers become frustrated and can actually get angry over their current condition. This anger is sometimes taken out on those closest to the person. Chronic pain sufferers may have violent outbursts or start to push loved ones and friends away. They start feeling hopeless and depressed, which can lead to suicidal thoughts and other mental disorders.

How to Treat Chronic Pain With Medication

MedicationBut there is hope for chronic pain sufferers. The most common treatment is, of course, medication that offers pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits. Here are some of the most common medications used to treat chronic pain.

Acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

These drugs are most commonly referred to as NSAID and are often obtained over the counter. These medications offer both pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. They are most effective for mild chronic pain and pain related to the muscles or bones. Patients should avoid taking these types of medications for an extended period of time because they could negatively impact kidney function. Other side effects include a breakdown of the gastrointestinal system (including bleeding ulcers) and blood clotting. Acetaminophen can also cause liver damage if used in excess.

Muscle Relaxers

This type of medication is exactly as it sounds. It’s used to help relax tight and tense muscles that cause pain and discomfort for patients. One of the most common conditions treated with relaxants is muscle spasms. Luckily, the primary side effect of this medication is drowsiness. People taking muscle relaxers should avoid driving or performing any tasks that require you to be focused and alert.

Opioids

Opioid-Medication-Opioids successfully treat specific types of chronic pain but are less effective for others, including nerve pain. Long term opioids can help treat chronic pain that is present 24 hours a day. There are several side effects associated with opioid use including constipation, drowsiness, nausea, and the potential risk of addiction. Patients sometimes become dependent on the effects of opioids on their body. Their fear of the pain returning creates a dependency that can morph into an addiction. It’s important to discuss appropriate opioid use with your doctor and opt for the lowest dose available to treat your condition.

Anti-Seizure Medications and Antidepressants

Although these two medications aren’t designed to treat chronic pain, specifically, they are often used to do just that. Some of the properties found in these medications can help ease pain. Anti-seizure medication is often prescribed to patients with certain types of nerve pain. This medication is taken every day to avoid an flare up and not on an “as needed” basis. Discuss your current condition with your doctor prior to taking any anti-seizure medications as prolonged use can negatively affect both the liver and kidneys. Antidepressants also offer pain relief for some people. These medications are also taken daily, regardless of your current state of pain. The dose is often lower than those used to treat actual depression. Your doctor may recommend you take this medication at night, as it often has sedative effects.

Non-Medication Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

If you’re someone who shies away from taking medications, there are other treatment options available to offer pain relief.

Natural Remedies

GingerIf you’re more comfortable taking herbs and other natural ingredients for pain relief, you can. Herbs like willow bark, ginseng, ginger, and boswellia are common, natural ways to relieve pain. This website offers other forms of natural pain relief.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help loosen tight muscles, increase blood flow and circulation, and improve mobility. This is especially true when chronic pain prevents you from moving around regularly. People confined to a bed or couch for extended periods of time can become stiff and immobile, worsening their condition.

Ice and Gel Packs

Often times ice and gel packs can help ease pain and discomfort. Ice is commonly used to treat acute injuries and help reduce swelling and inflammation. Heat should be applied if pain is associated with sore muscles or stiffness. Gel packs are a great option because they can be either heated or chilled depending on your condition and need. Elevation is another great way to move collected blood away from the injured area and reduce pain and swelling.

Massage and Relaxation Techniques

muscleMassage and relaxation techniques are best used for patients suffering from muscle tension and pain but it can be used to help treat other side effects of illness. Relaxation techniques are especially beneficial for patients that are anxious over their pain. Massage increase blood and lymph circulation and helps to relax and normalize soft tissue. This helps release the nerves and deeper connective tissues, all while relaxing patients minds and bodies.

Pain Relief is Possible

It’s important to remember that there are ways to treat and live with chronic pain. Whether you opt for medication or alternative methods, it’s important to remain optimistic and work toward positive change.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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