Chronic pain comes in many forms. There’s the widespread muscle pain of fibromyalgia, the inflamed joints that come with rheumatoid arthritis, residual pain from injuries, and so many other kinds – and such pain is unfortunately common. Experts estimate that as many as , with the CDC reporting that 8% suffer from severe, or “high-impact” pain. Still, despite its prevalence, appropriate treatments remain scarce.
Faced with the challenges created by chronic pain, how should doctors and patients respond? Most doctors recommend a multi-modal approach to manage chronic pain. Such an approach is necessitated both by the complexity of these conditions, as well as by legal barriers and the criminalization of chronic pain patients and their doctors. These , but for patients newly deprived of their established treatment regimen, they are ultimately a punishment; they also when working with patients they know well.
How does combining multiple forms of treatment and support patients with chronic pain? The basic goal behind this approach is to help patients address the problem from multiple angles so that they can find relief from both physical pain and the mental distress that constant pain can cause despite restricted access to preferred treatments. These 4 approaches form the backbone of today’s multimodal pain relief and offer varying degrees of relief depending on the patient and the underlying health condition.
For most people with chronic pain, the first line of treatment if some form of medication, whether that’s an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil or, for those with more severe pain, . Long-term use of pain medication can pose some health risks, including gastrointestinal problems, but for many patients, taking a traditional pain medication allows them the relief and clarity to take advantage of other pain management strategies, such as exercise and meditation.
Not everyone is comfortable taking conventional pain medication, while others may not get sufficient relief from such treatments. Whatever the reason they turn to natural supplements, though, many find them to be a critical part of their pain management plan. In particular, many chronic pain patients use , enabling them to engage in more physical activity and improving sleep quality.
Sometimes managing chronic pain has less to do with changing one’s body and more to do with changing the environment. That might mean using a cane for stability or a wheelchair to minimize joint pain, or using adaptive tools like jar openers and shower chairs to make daily activities easier. Some people with chronic pain also use , such as fetching items, opening doors, and as support for mobility. Such dogs need to be specially trained and can be expensive, but those who use them consider them to be a lifeline.
We tend to think of pain as a physical condition, but the fact is that it has significant psychological elements as well. For example, . Reducing stress, however, not only relieves some degree of physical pain, but it can also make it easier to manage what pain patients do experience. Learning relaxation strategies, including meditation, breathing techniques, and mindfulness can also help patients manage their chronic pain.
Facing A Complex Problem
Chronic pain may be common, but overall, it’s poorly understood and that’s part of why it’s so difficult to treat. Luckily, through the work of patient advocates and committed doctors, patients increasingly are able to access a combination of treatments that provide relief and let them enjoy their favorite activities. Progress is slow, but it continues apace.
Alex Sanders is a passionate and experienced writer with a focus on business finance, politics, public policy, and law. He is extremely passionate about social justice issues. Alex received his bachelor of science in business management from the University of Michigan.