Chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts more than three months, is on the rise in the United States. Over 10 percent of American adults said they had experienced pain over the previous three months, according to the federal 2012 National Health Interview Survey.
People who suffer from chronic and severe pain report a lower quality of life, and more disability that people who had less chronic pain. So it’s very important to understand your options for treatment and relief.
The most common conditions that cause chronic pain are osteoarthritis and low-back pain. Other common conditions include fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome. Chronic pain may also be caused by an injury, inflammation, or a nervous system problem (neuropathic pain). Sometimes, no specific cause can be found.
Chronic pain is costly, both in terms of treatment and time lost at work: nearly $635 billion dollars in 2012.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen can provide effective relief for mild to moderate pain. If you suffer pain caused by osteoarthritis, this conservative approach to pain management may work well for you. Combining over-the-counter pain relief with low-impact exercise is even more effective in controlling chronic pain.
Physical therapy can be a very helpful way of treating lower-back pain. Often, weakness or other musculoskeletal issues may leave you more vulnerable to back injury and the resulting pain. Strengthening your core muscle with supervised and targeted exercise will help in the long term by taking some of the strain off of your back muscles.
Stronger pain relief medication is a controversial subject lately, with opioid misuse and addiction in the news almost every day. Talk with your doctor if your over-the-counter medications are not helping.
Cortisone injections for lower back pain can help reduce inflammation and the injections deliver the medicine directly to where it’s needed. Always work with an experienced professional whenever getting invasive treatments, especially any treatment involving the area around your spine. Ask your doctor where the medicines were made, how they were made, and how safe the procedure is.
More advanced pain-management treatments include implanted medication-delivery pumps and spinal cord stimulation. These may be needed to help with conditions such complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Partial or total joint replacement surgery may be necessary to relieve your pain if you have advanced osteoarthritis or other joint disease and other methods failed to bring relief.
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating some types of chronic pain, including lower-back pain. Yoga also has helped some people who suffer from chronic pain. Biofeedback, meditation therapy, and psychotherapy also can help certain patients manage chronic pain.
Antidepressants have helped patients who suffer from fibromyalgia, and it’s important to note that people with fibromyalgia are not depressed per se. Rather, it’s thought that the medications work to soothe nerve inflammation and pain.
Chronic pain is a big problem for lots of people. It’s essential that you get expert advice and treatment for pain before it does permanent damage to your physical and mental health.
If you or a loved one suffers from chronic pain, or if you have questions about how chronic disease can impact your health, call the orthopedic specialists at South Palm Orthopedics at or request an appointment online.