11 Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

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Introduction

If you suffer from chronic pain then you are probably familiar with some or even many of these treatments. The purpose of this article is to identify the range of options available because at the end of the day everyone is different. Treatments that work for you may have no effect on another person, and vice versa.

Please note, the information below assumes your condition is not life threatening and is in no way a replacement for the advice offered by a qualified practitioner, diagnosing your specific condition.

So here it is, 11 of the most effective treatments in Australia, based on real case studies and advice from healthcare professionals. The list includes details such as side effects, common misconceptions and advice offered at initial consultations.

chronic pain

Therapies

1) Massage

Risk: Low, Relief Duration: Short Term, Relief Amount: Medium-High

Irrespective of the cause of your chronic pain a therapeutic massage is likely to help increase blood flow to muscles in the affected area and also provide improved motion for a short period of time. A good masseuse will identify referral trigger points which will extend the relief duration and oils are able to achieve deeper tissue treatment.

2) Chiropractic

Risk: Low, Relief Duration: Medium-Long Term, Relief Amount: Medium-High

Chiropractors are primary health care practitioners which means that you do not need a referral to go and see one. They are specialists in the health of the Spine and Nervous System. An experienced Chiropractor will provide significant relief by improving function and movement to the spine and the connected tissues (it should be noted that proper movement is also important for proper blood flow, for the central nervous system, muscles, and many other systems within the body) Many chronic pain sufferers resort to chiropractic as a last resort only to learn that it one of the most evidence based treatments and is an essential treatment for long term relief and function. Improving motion to the affected areas also enhances the effectiveness of other therapies including muscular therapies.

For more information in our field, please view the chiro services page or our pain relief services page.

3) Acupuncture

Risk: Low-Medium, Relief Duration: Medium-Long Term, Relief Amount: Medium

Acupuncture is one of those therapies that chronic pain sufferers either praise or deny in its entirety. Case studies show that it was either highly effective, or had no impact. Which is understandable considering the nature of acupuncture; a therapy that zones in on fine acupoints and when successful will assist the muscle in its healing process. Ask about cupping and electrical stimulation to ensure your acupuncture treatments are as effective as possible.

4) Myotherapy

Risk: Low-Medium, Relief Duration: Medium-Long Term, Relief Amount: Medium-High

Experts in soft tissue referral pain, myotherapists zone in on trigger points for chronic pain conditions. A myotherapist will apply significant force to myofascial tissue which are the fine sheets that separate muscles. For many chronic pain suffers myotherapy is an advanced method for isolating and treating a problem area.

5) Physiotherapy

Risk: Low-Medium, Relief Duration: Medium-LongTerm, Relief Amount: Medium-High

Physio is as well known as it is diverse and is a therapy that treats many types of physical conditions including sports injuries, rehabilitation after surgery, and many other musculoskeletal problems. Due to the generalistic nature of physiotherapy the results from physio sometimes may not be as targeted as that from a dedicated therapist. For example, some physiotherapists will apply ultrasound, Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), massage, manipulation and/or acupuncture to chronic pain sufferer, which is why physios are a good option if you are unsure about which treatment to choose.

6) Aqua / Hydro Therapy

Risk: Low, Relief Duration: Medium-Long Term, Relief Amount: Medium-High

aqua therapy

Rehabilitation from water comes highly recommended by general practitioners, as treatments are performed in water, which plays a crucial role in muscle relaxation. Techniques are similar to those used in traditional therapeutic massage with the advantage of deeper penetration while the reduction is gravitational force promotes strengthening exercise without the risk of increased injury.

7) Weight Training

Risk: Medium-High, Relief Duration: Long Term, Relief Amount: High

Using free or machine weights for chronic pain conditions can have a profound effect on the group of muscles surrounding the problem area and subsequently improve the condition by using counter-measures. Strengthening and balancing out muscles so that the source of your chronic pain does not have to work so hard.

Medicinal:

8) Analgesics (eg. Paracetamol)

Risk: Low-Medium, Relief Duration: Short Term, Relief Amount: Low

Paracetamol is among the most common medications for pain relief, it is generally safe to use and effective in relieving pain by lowering the awareness of prostaglandins, a chemical that the body produces whilst in pain.

For chronic pain sufferers the use of basic analgesics such as paracetamol is tried and tested with mild success but ultimately this type of medication is not a long term solution. As with all drugs the ongoing use of paracetamol presents a risk of serious injury or in very rare cases an overdose can cause death. Always take care.

9) Opioid Analgesics (eg. Codeine)

Risk: Medium-High, Relief Duration: Short Term, Relief Amount: High

Chronic pain sufferers are usually aware of the excellent albeit short term relief from opioids. If used infrequently these painkillers are very effective. However there are studies that highlight the ongoing use of opioid analgesics as an eventual cause of pain. A common example is neck pain and associated headaches triggered by codeine dependencies. So here we have an excellent medication for pain relief, only when used as directed, and infrequently.

10) Anti-inflammatories (eg. Ibuprofen)

Risk: Medium-High, Relief Duration: Short Term, Relief Amount: Medium-High

Ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatories target hormones known to cause inflammation. Unlike other anti-inflammatories ibuprofen is non-steroidal which means the side effects and associated risks are lower. Using Ibuprofen is likely to be a safe choice for chronic pain especially when it is taken in a diligent manner, always with food and always checking risks with your doctor or pharmacist. Especially if you have a heart condition and / or stomach ulcers.

11) Tricyclic Antidepressant (eg. Endep)

Risk: Medium-High, Relief Duration: Short Term, Relief Amount: Medium-High

Endep is a form of antidepressant which has been highly successful in treating a number of complicated chronic pain issues. Unfortunately the active ingredients in this type of medicine also presents individuals with likely side effects such a drowsiness and in some cases can cause seizures and heart conditions. If your doctor recommends Endep then the benefits of this serotonin inhibitor may include a significant decrease in your conscious level of pain. Altering your mental state so that the awareness of pain is reduced.

painful lower back

In Summary

This list represents a mere selection of treatment options, a list that we could add to with modern solutions such as botox injections, or more complex medications like beta blockers. There are physical applications like TENS machines and herbal remedies are also very popular in some circles. Suffice to say it is not usually recommended to start with prescription medications.

At the end of the day chronic pain sufferers are not likely to find a simple solution. In reality many of the associated conditions can be as complex as the pain management treatments. Although, this is not necessarily bad news; instead what it means is an extra effort, and a proactive approach.

First and foremost it is essential that anyone with chronic pain should seek the advice of a primary health care provider and/or general practitioner. Let’s make that clear, and reinforce this sentiment by saying that none of the aforementioned treatments are solutions in their own right. Implementing any of the above should be condoned by medical practitioners and/or clinical Healthcare physicians whose expertise fall within the given field. Apologies to our readers for what might appear as monotonous disclaimers but we’re confident that you understand the potential repercussions

So what do we recommend as next steps? Well that one is simple – these are all legitimate options for chronic pain relief and they should serve you as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’ that you can direct at relevant practitioners. Good luck to anyone who is searching for solutions, we hope that this will help you on your quest.

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