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

Finish your antibiotics course? Maybe not, experts say

July 27, 2017
British disease experts on Thursday suggested doing away with the "incorrect" advice to always finish a course of antibiotics, saying the approach was fuelling the spread of drug resistance.

Co-infection with two common gut pathogens worsens malnutrition in mice

July 27, 2017
Two gut pathogens commonly found in malnourished children combine to worsen malnutrition and impair growth in laboratory mice, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Phase 3 trial confirms superiority of tocilizumab to steroids for giant cell arteritis

July 26, 2017
A phase 3 clinical trial has confirmed that regular treatment with tocilizumab, an inhibitor of interleukin-6, successfully reduced both symptoms of and the need for high-dose steroid treatment for giant cell arteritis, the ...

A large-scale 'germ trap' solution for hospitals

July 26, 2017
When an infectious airborne illness strikes, some hospitals use negative pressure rooms to isolate and treat patients. These rooms use ventilation controls to keep germ-filled air contained rather than letting it circulate ...

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Male hepatitis B patients suffer worse liver ailments, regardless of lifestyle

July 25, 2017
Why men with hepatitis B remain more than twice as likely to develop severe liver disease than women remains a mystery, even after a study led by a recent Drexel University graduate took lifestyle choices and environments ...

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.