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Treatments for Chronic Pain


If there’s one fact that everyone can agree on – patient and health care practitioner alike – is that far too often it’s undertreated or not treated at all. withdraw under a professional's care

That comment is borne out by a recent survey conducted by the American Pain Society.  It discovered that only 55 percent of all patients with non-cancerous pain were being treated well enough that it could be called “under control.” Less than 40 percent of those interviewed who 

indicated they had severe pain said their pain was under control. In fact, chronic pain is the second most common reason why people seek medical care.  The top reason, by the way, is respiratory infections.

The sad part is that your typical health care practitioner rarely takes a patient’s pain seriously or treats it adequately.  That means that nearly half of all individuals change health care practitioners at least once.  More than 25 percent of these people have changed health care practitioners at least three times.  

Most people with chronic pain find themselves taking a “cocktail” or combination of medications that complement one another.  And this cocktail usually falls into three main categories.

If the pain is not severe, then the health care practitioner recommends his patient take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  These include ibuprofen and naproxen.  These medications are sold without a prescription over the counter in every pharmacy in the country. 

NSAIDs should never, ever be combined with one another or any drug that is similar to aspirin.  This type of medication can be used safely with acetaminophen, though.  Acetaminophen is sold under the brand name of Tylenol.

There a few prescription NSAIDs – like diclofenac (sold under the brand name Voltren) and celecobix – much more widely known as Celebrex – that are only available with a prescription written by a health care practitioner.

No matter which form you and your health care practitioner choose for your specific purpose, you must remember that all carries some risk, from gastrointestinal problems to an increased risk of ulcers, heart attack and stroke.

Pain is such an ever increasing unsolvable problem that there are now several classes of drugs that were originally intended for other uses that are being used as pain killers.  These are usually used in combination with traditional pain-relieving drugs.  These can come from the antidepressant, antiepileptic and the muscle relaxant categories.

But by far the most important class of drugs for to treat chronic paint that ranges from moderate to severe is the opioid.  These are better known as the morphine and morphine-like medications.  Both patients and health care practitioners try to avoid these however.  Patients fear them because of their notoriety of possible addiction. (You need to know though that when used to treat honest severe chronic pain, addiction is rarely a concern.)

Health care practitioners try hard not to prescribe not only for fear of patient addiction, but also for two others.  They fear their patients will be duped by drug abusers who prey on people with prescriptions.  They are also fearful that if they write too many of these prescriptions, the Justice Department will raid them.

And here, pain societies have tried to aid health care practitioners.  These groups have established clear-cut guidelines in avoiding risks of this sort, including ways to identify the type of individual who may become addicted to this type of medication.

To compound problems in regards to prescribing pain medication is a confusion between a physical dependency and an addiction.  A dependency results in withdrawal symptoms for the individual if the drug is stopped abruptly.  Addiction, on the other hand describes the loss of control over his drug use and cravings for the drug despite the fact the use itself is causing him harm. Individuals on these drugs must be gradually weaned from the opioids in order to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal. What is needed for some people is to withdraw under a professional's care.

For those persons who suffer with chronic, continuous pain, some health care practitioners recommend a slow release opioid-like oxycodone – notorious as the brand name Oxycontin – morphine or fentanyl.  Fentanyl is administered through a patch worn on the skin. This drug may also be taken as a lozenge for acute pain. All three of these minimize or eliminate altogether the pendulum like swings of the pain.  They also have the added benefit of reducing the amount of medication needed.

Natural Treatments

While there are many medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – each and every one of these comes with a set of side effects.  Sometimes harsh side effects.


Some individuals who suffer with pain prefer to try more natural alternatives as well as some non-medicinal therapies.


For some, the choice is a technique called TENS.  This is short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.  In this method, pulses of low-intensity electric current are applied to the skin.  These pulses then transmit signals that compete with the brain’s attention with the pain signals.  There are obviously two advantages of using this technique.  It doesn’t interfere or interact with any drugs you may be taking.  It’s also convenient because it can be administered at home.


Another non-medicinal technique is acupuncture.  This ancient Chinese method is gaining increasing popularity with those who suffer from pain on a daily basis. It’s also a great method for pain that comes and goes. Many western medical experts believe that acupuncture works by releasing an increasing number of endorphins, the natural chemicals of the body the block pain signals from reaching the brain.


Many people find it effective in relieving headaches, facial as well as low back pain.  Acupuncture has also been known to help alleviate pain caused by shingles, arthritis and a spastic colon.


There are also other non-medicinal methods that may help to relieve your chronic pain.  Techniques like guided imagery, meditation, hypnosis, self-hypnosis, relaxation therapy and even hypnotherapy can be useful for some.  Often they don’t relieve the pain as much as they reduce stress, which can go a long way to taking your mind off the pain.


Another option for many people is to engage in physical therapy.  Exercises related to this method many times strengthens the supporting muscles which may be weak as well as help to relax tight joints.  Others undergo occupational therapy.  Here individuals learn new ways of sitting, moving and even lying down in order to reduce irritation of or dependence on the current painful body parts.


Other people find true relief in the use of herbs.  There are many natural herbs that work as effectively – if not more so – than prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Before you choose any of these herbs, though, you need to consult with your personal health care practitioner to ensure that none of these interferes with your current medications.


You may also want to, prior to selecting any of these, consult with a professional herbalist.  She’ll be able to help you choose the herb that best suits your situation.


One of the first most people choose is white willow bark.  You’re probably already familiar with it, if not as an herb, as the herb’s synthetic child – aspirin.


Some people find that cayenne powder added to their juice or food relieves pain as well as harsh medications.  Some individuals also find that this works well when used as a cream and is applied to the skin.


Kava is another excellent herb.  Not only does it help to relieve pain, but it induces sleep.  Sometimes that’s a great thing if you’ve been suffering with continued, chronic pain for a long period of time.


If you have pain and inflammation, then you might want to try turmeric.  This will not only help your pain, but help your swelling as well.


You’ve no doubt heard of Echinacea.  It’s an excellent herbal remedy to a weak immune system.  Many individuals are already taking it especially around the cold and flu season.  But did you know this same herb may help with your chronic pain.  And Echinacea may be of special significance for pain that accompanies an advanced state of a disease.




Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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