Understanding and managing chronic pain

July 4, 2014

Acupuncture, exercise and massage and physical therapy are among the ways to deal with chronic pain that don't require narcotic painkillers, says Nancy Elder, MD, professor of family and community medicine at the University of Cincinnati.

"A lot of patients think, 'Oh, I hurt a lot, I hurt a lot all the time, the doctor should give me OxyContin and Vicodin,'" says Elder. "I think the most important thing that doctors and patients need to know is there is much we can do to help patients with outside of narcotics.

"That doesn't mean narcotics aren't appropriate for some people in certain situations, but there are a whole lot of people that can get better without them," she adds.

Elder says more doctors must have initial conversations with patients to manage expectations in dealing with chronic pain.

"Part of it is understanding the natural course of chronic pain and some of it is understanding the difference between being cured and being able to 'do what I want to do with pain that is manageable,'" says Elder.

"I may not be able to cure somebody of their chronic pain, but I can make them feel a whole lot better and help them do more of the activities they want to do."

Elder says whenever possible, physicians should involve a multimodality team that may include specialists in , massage therapy, acupuncture and to address chronic pain. Acupuncture may relieve pain caused by conditions such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and back injuries.

Exercise under a doctor's supervision can improve energy levels and mood and relieve chronic pain, while chiropractic treatment may work well in treating certain types of , says Elder. Addressing behavioral/mental health is also important when dealing with chronic pain.

"Pain can worsen depression and depression may make chronic pain worse," says Elder.

There are also surgical possibilities and nerve injections that address some types of chronic pain so collaborations with anesthesiologists are also important, says Elder.

"There are medicines besides narcotics to help chronic pain such as antidepressants; even if you are not depressed, they can help," says Elder.

Medicines that were originally developed for epilepsy may have a benefit in chronic pain. Depending on the type of pain, there are even some cardiac medications that are very helpful, explains Elder. "A lot of other medicines from various areas of medicine have also been found to help with chronic pain," she says. "We call them adjuvant medications because they aren't painkillers, but they work to help decrease chronic pain.

"People with chronic pain, both doctors and , need to think outside of the opioid/narcotic pain box," Elder says.

Explore further: Study underscores benefits of clinical massage therapy for chronic lower back pain

Related Stories

Study underscores benefits of clinical massage therapy for chronic lower back pain

May 22, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Clinical massage therapy has alleviated chronic lower back pain (CLBP) in patients who participated in a recent University of Kentucky study of complementary therapies.

Can virtual reality therapy help alleviate chronic pain?

June 5, 2014
Chronic pain due to disease or injury is common, and even prescription pain medications cannot provide acceptable pain relief for many individuals. Virtual reality as a means of distraction, inducing positive emotions, or ...

Research letter examines reports of chronic pain, opioid use by US soldiers

June 30, 2014
In a survey of U.S. soldiers returned from deployment, 44 percent reported chronic pain and 15.1 percent reported recent use of opioid pain relievers.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

April 20, 2014
Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Plant used in Chinese medicine fights chronic pain

January 2, 2014
A plant used for centuries as a pain reliever in Chinese medicine may be just what the doctor ordered, especially when it comes to chronic pain. A key pain-relieving ingredient is a compound known as dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) ...

Can meditation decrease chronic pain?

October 23, 2013
A randomized controlled study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics has investigated the role of a special form of meditation (mindfulness) in Chronic pain.

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.