The CDC recently announced that nearly 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. That’s 20% of the adult-age population. However, between the recent opioid crisis and concerns over pain medications, solving the challenge of chronic pain seems to get tougher each day. This short guide will show you 5 simple ways to ease chronic pain so you reclaim your life and do the things you want to do.
There’s no doubt that chronic pain conditions are challenging to your daily life, including your work life and personal life. It’s one thing to suffer an injury and expect it to heal. But when the pain doesn’t disappear, it can cause serious consequences that impact your physical and emotional well-being.
What is chronic pain?
Before exploring the different ways to ease chronic pain, it’s important to understand what distinguishes it from regular aches and pains or injuries. Chronic pain is classified as pain that recurs for 3 months. Typically it’s associated with long-term conditions such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Complications from surgery, long-term lower back pain and headaches also fall under this category.
Doctors generally tend to think of pain as either chronic and acute. Acute pain has a well-defined time course, whereas chronic pain can occur for months and even years. Chronic pain can also vary in intensity -from mild to severe- concurrently impacting your life in different ways.
How can you treat chronic pain?
There are a wide range of treatment options available depending on the condition that is causing your pain. More and more, patients are looking for different approaches to managing chronic pain and avoiding prescription pain medicine when possible.
Here are some of the best ways of easing chronic pain:
1) Take anti-inflammatory medication
Anti-inflammatories are the go-to when it comes to treating mild forms of chronic pain. They are typically used in managing conditions like arthritis, lower back pain and joint pain. These are common over the counter drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, along with NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin. Your doctor will recommend a specific course of pain management that likely includes such medication.
Each one of these medicines typically has milder side effects compared to stronger medications. However, doctors may ask you to make changes to your diet while taking acetaminophen.
NSAIDs are among the most commonly prescribed medications by doctors. In randomized controlled trials, they have proven to be very effective in managing pain. There is even evidence to support that these types of medications decrease the risk of dementia and increase muscle function in addition to their pain-fighting benefits.
2) Get the right physical therapy
Everybody knows about the importance of exercise. However, fighting chronic pain means that more focus on building strong muscles is essential. Elderly individuals or those recovering from serious injuries should pursue a path of fitness and physical therapy that fit their special needs. This may include a more gradual approach to building muscle to avoid the risk of additional injuries.