Chronic conditions are responsible for 7 out of every 10 deaths in the United States. Chronic pain management and treatment is a growing medical field, and new treatment options are being developed to help you live pain-free. Here are a few ways that doctors manage patients' chronic pain:
Drug Therapy: For some patients, pain management specialists may recommend or prescribe pain medication. Over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen have proven effective in managing many types of pain. NSAIDs have also been shown to help combat inflammation and swelling. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe additional pain medicine. All prescriptions are at the sole discretion of your doctor.
TENS: TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, uses low-voltage electrical currents to help alleviate pain. This stimulates nerves, sending signals to the brain that disrupt - and temporarily alleviate - your pain. TENS has been shown to be an effective treatment for neuropathy.
Spinal Cord Stimulation: For some chronic pain, doctors may recommend implanting a spinal cord stimulator into your spinal cord. This device directly stimulates your spinal cord with low levels of electricity, which can help reduce certain pains. Spinal cord stimulators, which require two implantation procedures, have been shown to improve patients' quality of life and reduce their reliance on pain killers.
Nerve Blocks: Nerve blocks are another neurological defense against pain. Nerve blocks are a shot that board-certified doctors use to effectively "turn off" certain nerves that are causing you pain.
Physical Therapy: Chronic pain isn't always the result of a serious condition like cancer or diabetes. Sometimes, pain can be caused by a lack of strength or mobility. Physical therapists work with patients to enhance and restore both. Whether you're suffering from herniated discs or a torn ACL, physical therapists can rehab you back into shape. Physical medicine specialists, doctors who focus on enhancing the quality of life of people with chronic disabilities, can also help provide strategies to keep pain at bay.