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Guide to Chronic Pain and Manag...

Chronic Pain Treatments

There are three main categories of pain management treatments available to patients with chronic pain.  Knowing what your options are for treatment can help you form the best pain management program for your needs.

Non-invasive, non-drug pain management
The first step in pain management is often non-invasive, non-drug pain treatments.  These are techniques that don’t require medications, surgery, or any instruments being inserted into the body.  Here are some of the top techniques:

  • Exercise and Physical Therapy.  Exercise can help relieve stress, stretch or strengthen muscles, improve the health of your heart, improve nutrition, and help you with appropriate weight loss.  Exercise and physical therapy are typically a core part of any pain management program.  There is a wide range of options available, and depending on the individual’s conditions and preferences some types of physical therapy may work better than others.  For people in a great deal of pain, gentle exercise options learned with the help of a physical therapist are often best, such as water therapy, stationary exercise biking, walking on a treadmill, Pilates or Tai Chi, and specifically tailored strengthening programs.
  • Manual Techniques.  Typical manual therapies can include chiropractic manipulation, massage therapy, osteopathic manipulation, and more.  Once again, consult a doctor to see if any of these options can help you in your pain management.
  • Behavior Modification.  Certain changes in behavior can have a large impact on pain management.  For example, stopping smoking is usually encouraged as part of any pain management program, as is posture improvement, weight reduction if needed, improved sleep habits.

These are just a few of the pain management techniques available – there are many, many more options are available.

Non-invasive, pharmacological pain management
Pharmacological or drug-based pain management can help reduce the symptoms of chronic pain by reducing inflammation, relaxing the muscles, or in many other ways.  Common pain medications used to treat chronic pain include analgesics, narcotic medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and certain other medications that aren’t typically classified as pain medications, such as antidepressants or anti-seizure medications.  If your current pain medication is not effective, discuss your other options with your doctor. 

Invasive pain management
Invasive pain management techniques are those that require the insertion of instruments or devices in the body.  Invasive pain management is not the same as typical types of surgery – surgery usually is more invasive, creates more permanent changes to the body, and may require larger incisions. 


Examples of invasive pain management can include the following:

  • Injections.  Injections of steroids or anesthetic to pinched nerves or affected spaces of the body can help provide temporary relief from severe back pain.
  • Prolotherapy.  This injection is thought to stimulate blood circulation and help ligament repair.
  • Implanted devices.  Devices such as the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) or infusion pumps are designed to help relieve pain by affecting the nerves that are causing the pain. 

Overall, you will likely find that a combination of techniques will help you relieve your pain the best.  It usually will take time and a process of trial and error before the right combination is found for you.  For many, additional coping techniques are a good complement to medical interventions.



Information provided by: Spine-health | Trusted Pain Relief Information


© 1999-2008 Spine-health


The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for medical advice in any way.  A licensed medical professional should be consulted for any and all medical conditions and symptoms.

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