Chronic Pain (cont.)
In addition to medicine or surgery, other treatments can be helpful in reducing chronic pain.
Other treatment choices
Additional treatments for chronic pain may include:
- Physical therapy. This may include hot and cold therapy to relieve painful areas of the body. It may also include stretching and range-of-motion exercises to maintain strength, flexibility, and mobility.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS applies brief pulses of electricity to nerve endings in the skin to relieve chronic pain.
- Professional counseling (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy). This treatment focuses on your mental health and conditions such as stress and depression, which can happen along with chronic pain and make the pain worse. To recover from chronic pain, it is important to be healthy emotionally and physically.
Your doctor may refer you to a pain management clinic to receive these treatments. These clinics provide a setting where you can receive treatment and learn to cope with chronic pain. Treatment is usually provided by a team of doctors who work together to address the many possible causes of your chronic pain. You may also receive these treatments from your own doctor or from specialists who treat chronic pain.
Complementary therapies may reduce pain, help you cope with stress, and improve your emotional and physical well-being. These include:
- Acupuncture, a treatment based on traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture involves putting very thin needles into the skin at certain points on the body.
- Aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, which uses a plant's aroma-producing oils (essential oils) to treat disease.
- Biofeedback, a method of consciously controlling a body function that is normally regulated automatically by the body, such as skin temperature.
- Chiropractic therapy, a hands-on therapy based on the theory that many medical disorders (especially disorders of the nervous system) may be caused by subluxations in the spine.
- Guided imagery, a series of thoughts and suggestions that direct a person's imagination toward a relaxed, focused state.
- Healing touch, which influences a person's physical or emotional health without physically touching the person.
- Homeopathy, or homeopathic medicine, which is a medical philosophy and practice based on the idea that the body has the ability to heal itself.
- Hydrotherapy, which uses water, in any form, to treat a disease or to maintain health.
- Hypnosis, which is a state of focused concentration during which a person becomes less aware of his or her surroundings. Some people learn to manage pain through concentrating in this special way.
- Magnet field therapy, a treatment that uses magnets to stimulate areas of the body to try to maintain health and treat illness.
- Massage, which is rubbing the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles, to help reduce tension and pain, improve blood flow, and encourage relaxation.
- Meditation, which is the practice of focusing your attention to help you feel calm and give you a clear awareness about your life.
- Naturopathy, which promotes using organic foods and exercise; having a healthy, balanced lifestyle; and applying concepts from other areas of complementary medicine (such as Ayurveda, homeopathy, and herbal therapies) to try to improve health, prevent disease, and treat illness.
- Yoga, which uses meditation and exercises to help you improve flexibility and breathing, reduce stress, and maintain health.
What to think about
If you decide to try one or more of these complementary therapies to treat your chronic pain, find a health professional who has special training and, whenever possible, certification in the particular therapy. You may get a referral from someone you trust such as your doctor, family, or friends. Make sure all of your health professionals know every type of treatment you are using to reduce chronic pain.