Pain is an extremely complex phenomenon. The management of chronic pain has been an area of active medical research for decades, and scientists have traced dozens of mechanisms by which the sensation of pain forms. The treatments that are recommended for these sources of pain are just as diverse. No single approach works for many kinds of chronic pain. They require multiple courses of action, and a well-thought-out combination of treatment approaches.
Prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs are well known for their ability to help with pain. Many sufferers tend to be unaware of the vast range of other approaches available.
Trigger Point Injections
A trigger point is an area of muscle that involuntarily forms a knot of tenseness, without relaxing. Doctors inject anesthetic and steroidal medications into these knots to relax them. Trigger point injections come in other varieties, as well. They can involve injections of Botox to relieve migraine attacks for months at a time.
Surgically implanted pain relief systems
When injections and other medications fail to offer adequate relief, surgically implanted relief systems are a potential solution.
Intrathecal drug dispensers: Surgeons place a small medicine pump in a superficial pocket made under the skin. The medicine is carried to the spine, the central corridor for passage of pain signals. This type of pain medication delivery tends to be far safer than the oral route because it is delivered directly where it is needed.
Spinal stimulation implants: A battery-operated remote-controlled electrical signal generator is implanted near the spine. When the patient feels pain, he activates a remote control to signal the implant to generate electrical signals. These signals block the pain signals traveling down the spine.
TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy)
A commonly used system, TENS involves delivering low-voltage electrical stimulation to painful parts of the body. According to experts in pain management, Mesa, AZ, these signals interfere with regular pain signals, and offer relief.
Delivered by highly skilled therapists, physical therapy aims to relieve pain through the application of precisely targeted movements — stretches, strength training and exercises to help improve the health of joints in painful areas. Physical therapy can also include targeted exercises that help strengthen muscles, bones and joints as a way to take pressure off areas of the body that are injured or weak.
A number of therapeutic methods exist that help patients in certain narrow circumstances. While these are medically recognized methods, they haven’t yet turned mainstream.
Acupuncture: While recognized by the WHO as a valid treatment approach in dozens of conditions, acupuncture is primarily used in the US for relief in cases of chronic pain. Acupuncture therapy involves placing needles at several strategic nervous channels around the body in an attempt to block pain signals. It also stimulates the release of natural pain relief chemicals such as endorphins. Acupuncture is useful in treating migraine, cramps, tennis elbow, myofascial pain and low back pain.
Mind-body therapy: This technique involves guided imagery, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback and other approaches to help take advantage of the mind’s ability to control physical reactions.
Chiropractic treatment: While chiropractic treatment is considered alternative medicine, it’s common enough to be nearly mainstream. It involves targeted massage to relieve cervical pain, whiplash pain, stress related pain and back pain.
It’s important to approach the treatment of chronic pain with an open mind. Dozens of approaches exist, each one a perfect fit for a certain type of pain. All you need to do is to find good, professional practitioners, and to obtain their guidance.