Doctor-approved tips for managing your pain.
From acupuncture to hypnosis, painkillers to surgery, there are countless ways to tackle your ailments. Before you make an appointment, what specialist should you see and what type of treatment should you pursue? Reader’s Digest spoke with doctors from across the U.S. to find out their tips and tricks for managing pain.
- Before you praise a doctor for curing your back pain, remember this: It may have gone away on its own. Approximately 90 percent of low-back pain subsides within 12 weeks without medical intervention.
- If you have chronic pain, consider experimenting with dietary changes. Eliminate dairy for a few weeks, then reintroduce it and see how you feel. Do the same with wheat, red meat, shellfish, citrus, peanuts, caffeine and alcohol, one at a time. If your symptoms get worse when you add back a food, it may be contributing to your problem. (Learn about foods that can fight inflammation, which is at the heart of practically every serious disease, including many chronic pain conditions.)
- If a doctor specializes in prescribing narcotics, giving injections, or doing surgery, that’s probably what they’re going to recommend. But there are dozens of other effective options such as massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, spinal cord stimulators, and behavioral therapy. (Learn more about easing discomfort through acupuncture and get educated on the conditions this age-old therapy can help.)
- Reconsider before asking for a prescription. The latest research shows that taking opioid meds (like Vicodin and OxyContin) for chronic pain can change the brain, damaging its ability to feel pleasure and leading to a craving for more drugs. A few studies found that long-term use can actually further aggravate your back or neck.
- Any doctor can hang a shingle that says I treat pain. Look for doctors who are board-certified in pain medicine or who did a fellowship in something pain-related.
To find out more on what pain doctors are really thinking when you visit them, and how you can better manage your symptoms, read 13 Things Your Pain Doctor Won’t Tell You from Reader’s Digest, February 2013.
Photo Credit: by Orangeline, Stock Free Image