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Chronic pain, which is estimated to affect over 50 million Americans, is a complex condition involving pain that lasts longer than 3 to 6 months or pain that continues when it should not. Not all chronic pain can be cured, but many treatments can help.
Chronic pain has many different causes. Fibromyalgia, endometriosis and arthritis are just a few of the common conditions that cause chronic pain. The American Chronic Pain Association recommends tracking your symptoms using a phone app or notebook to have better conversations with your healthcare provider about your pain. Good communication about the impact of chronic pain on your daily life will help you be more proactive.
There are several different medications available to treat chronic pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can provide relief, but there are risks associated with these medications. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage, for example. Opioid pain relievers are also effective, but they should be used with caution and under the direct supervision of a doctor.
Alternative therapies such as massage, exercise and physical therapy can help people manage chronic pain. Other treatments that may be effective for some people include:
Always consult your doctor before trying a new treatment for pain.
Psychological therapies can help people manage chronic pain by finding ways to cope with discomfort. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, is an effective tool that focuses on improving emotional regulation, which can help you manage daily pain. Combined with other treatments, therapy can help you better control your pain.
A solid support system can also help you manage your pain. It’s important to have people who will be there when you need help to not only give you a break from daily activities but also care for you when you need a friend. Use resources online to find information and support that will help you manage your healthcare needs.
Every patient with chronic pain is different. Picking the right treatment regimen involves understanding the specific nature of your pain, the underlying conditions and clinical judgment. Work with your healthcare provider to find ways to manage your chronic pain and improve your quality of life.
“Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among Adults – United States 2016.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Chronic Pain: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
“Chronic Pain.” American Chronic Pain Association. https://www.theacpa.org/conditions-treatments/conditions-a-z/chronic-pain/
“Communication Tools.” American Chronic Pain Association. https://www.theacpa.org/pain-management-tools/communication-tools/
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.