As of 2016, an estimated 20.4% of Americans deal with some sort of chronic pain, and 8% deal with some type of high impact chronic pain. The long-term effects of chronic pain can have consequences on how people function at work and home, as well as their overall quality of life. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain has to be treated long term and may require many different treatments over time.
For help managing chronic pain, Christopher D. Clark, MD, and the team at Premier Spine and Sports Medicine in Hagerstown, Maryland, have many innovative pain management options.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is the sort of pain that lingers after an injury or sickness. A traumatic injury can trigger pain that comes back repeatedly, but chronic pain can come from many conditions or illnesses. It’s commonly linked with headaches, arthritis, nerve pain, back pain, and fibromyalgia. This sort of pain is ongoing and can last for months or years. Chronic pain can also have an emotional impact on your body such as depression, anxiety, and anger.
What are effective treatments for chronic pain?
Managing your chronic pain means treating the underlying conditions as well as relieving symptoms. Effective ways of treating many forms of chronic pain can be broken down in several categories:
Depending on the amount of pain, several over-the-counter or prescription medications can help to alleviate your pain. Mild chronic pain may be managed with analgesic (pain relieving) over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Some topical cream or lotion analgesics can also be used over affected areas.
If those methods aren’t strong enough, there are many types of prescription medications you can use depending on the condition, including:
- Muscle relaxants: reduce muscle spasms, increase mobility, and relieve pain
- Corticosteroids: reduce inflammation and treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma
- Antidepressants: the same chemicals linked to depression are also linked to some types of chronic pain
- Opioids: works in the brain, nervous system, and other areas to block pain
- Nonopioids: NSAID (nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) are a common type of nonopioid used to block pain near the pain site
Other medications such as anticonvulsants can be used for diabetic nerve pain or other neuropathic conditions. Botox® is also used to help with chronic migraines.
Non-drug treatment for pain
Some chronic pain conditions respond well to other forms of treatment, like physical therapy, exercise, heat or cold packs, massage, and acupuncture. Some of these can also be used alongside medications. Spinal cord stimulation can help alleviate your pain through low levels of electrical pulse. Deep brain stimulation can be used when other conventional methods of pain relief aren’t enough. This method stimulates areas of the brain with electrodes.
There are many other ways to approach treating your chronic pain. If you’re dealing with chronic pain and need ways to get relief, schedule a visit by calling our office or booking an appointment online today.