Chronic Pain Management: An Individual Approach
Musculoskeletal pain is any pain that affects the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. This type of pain is symptomatic in hundreds of medical diagnoses, and the umbrella of conditions can either be acute or chronic. Some of the most common conditions in this category include: arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, musculoskeletal injury or overuse, and even disorders such as depression and anxiety, which can result in physical pain.
If you have ever suffered from pain associated with any of the above mentioned conditions, you know that the overall impact is profound. In fact, people sometimes describe it as a total body ache that will simply not go away. Other times, the pain leads to more symptoms, including restlessness, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Therefore, pain management–especially with chronic or unavoidable conditions–is crucial.
There are several different types of therapies and treatments for dealing with the spectrum of musculoskeletal pain and symptoms. Below is a list of common treatment modalities:
Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), acetaminophen or opioids may be used to treat inflammation or pain. Anti-inflammatory medications in or around painful sites administered by injection are also common, and may be helpful in reducing pain and swelling. However, many medications are intended for short term use, so speak with your doctor if you feel you are becoming dependent on pain alleviating prescriptions or OTC meds.
Sometimes pain treatment can be accomplished through physical therapy. Physical therapy (PT), involves the treatment, healing, and prevention of injuries or disabilities. PT helps to relieve pain, promote healing, and restore function and movement.
Acupuncture or Acupressure
Although the World Health Organization currently recognizes more than 30 diseases or conditions that can be helped by acupuncture treatment, one of the main uses of acupuncture is for pain relief. In acupuncture, disposable, stainless steel needles are used to stimulate the body in order to overcome illnesses and conditions by correcting imbalances. Acupuncture is also thought to decrease pain by increasing the release of chemicals that block pain signals to the brain, called endorphins.
While the verdict on this kind of alternative pain management may be mixed, many people find the use of relaxation techniques to be effective in managing chronic pain. These techniques include: meditation, massage, guided imagery, biofeedback, and even hypnosis.
Massage and chiropractic treatment are most widely used non-surgical treatments for back pain, but can also be a valuable part of a treatment plan for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions.
No matter which treatment plan works for you, be sure to consult with your doctor about any and all treatment options.
For more information, visit the Benefit Options Wellness website. Also, see the Quarter 2 Fact Sheet, Joint Pain, for more information on common joint conditions, signs and symptoms, and for care of this family of diseases.