In the U.S. alone, there are more than 100 million people living with chronic pain. Chronic pain occurs because of changes to the nerves or nervous system -- which keeps the nerves firing and signaling pain. Conditions such as migraines, osteoporosis, arthritis and other musculoskeletal ailments are well recognized chronic diseases. Acute pain also can transition into chronic pain if it is untreated or poorly treated. This happens when there are changes to neuroplasticity within the nervous system. The longer the pain remains untreated, the greater the risk of the body becoming to pain, and the pain becoming chronic.
There are many different treatment options for chronic pain. It can vary greatly depending on your diagnosis. The most commonly used medications can be divided into the following broad categories:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Antidepressants, which can improve sleep and alleviate pain
- Anti-seizure medications, which can be effective in treating pain related to nerve damage or injury
- Steroids,like dexamethasone and prednisone, to alleviate inflammation and pain
Proper physical therapy slowly builds your tolerance and reduces your pain. Start slowly to avoid reinjuring or aggravating the area of pain.
Other pain management options.
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy
- Heat and therapy
TENS is a drug free, simple to use, portable, non-addictive pain relief method. By using this small, battery-operated device, a TENS unit can block pain signals from reaching the brain and potentially reduce the need -- or quantity needed -- of pain medication.