For anyone who’s ever experienced a vehicle accident or a sports injury, chronic pain is a permanent and devastating reality; it can impair basic functions and substantially lower quality of life. People who suffer from lingering pain and stiffness may want to try these four common non-surgical treatments. Remember that your doctor or health care professional is always the best source of information about your health. Consult with them before embarking on any specific treatment plan.
Pain shots deliver medication directly to the affected muscle, joint, or nerve for short to medium term relief. The injection is comprised of two components: the medication and an anesthetic. The medication (typically steroids) reduces soreness and inflammation, while the anesthetic numbs the targeted region to ease the pain.
Your doctor may consider many different types of shots. For example, cortisone shots are injected directly into the joint; that includes the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, etc. Nerve root injections ease the pain in the arms or legs by targeting a specific nerve root along the spine. Pain shots tend to have side effects, so the number of injections is typically limited.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Exercise is an essential component of most chronic pain management plans. It can help alleviate some of the residual weakness and stiffness to the target muscles and improve strength, endurance, and range of motion. By working with a physical therapist, you are likely to improve your prospects for recovery.
A full therapeutic program will include aerobic exercises, stretches, core stabilization, and strength training. Another way to expedite your recovery is to combine physical therapy with the application of either a heat pack (for stiffness) or a cold pack (for inflammation and swelling). The therapist may also recommend using electrical stimulation that delivers low-voltage electricity to the affected area.
Therapeutic massage is not the same thing you’d receive at a typical massage parlor. The massage therapist combines a deep knowledge of anatomy and physiology with the skills of a professional massage practitioner. Studies suggest that massages can alleviate pain and improve functionality.
Relaxation techniques can range from yoga to simple breathing exercises, but all of them tend to emphasize a combination of meditation, relaxation, and positive thinking to help with psychological coping and pain reduction. Patients may want to try cognitive behavioral therapy to learn more about how to relax and focus.
It’s important to set an achievable goal for yourself and find a treatment that works for you. These treatments may be expensive, so if your pain is a result of someone’s negligence or an accident, consider seeking a personal injury attorney to help you recoup some of your costs.
It’s important to remember that most people will not achieve full 100 percent rehabilitation. Nor will everyone respond to a treatment in the same way. According to Dr. Atul Gawande, health care professionals should counsel patients to expect just enough pain control to regain functionality but not enough to achieve zero pain. That is why some doctors will deemphasize using opioids and medication that might not necessarily improve the quality of life in the long run and emphasize learning to manage the pain instead.