Chronic pain conditions differ from most medical conditions and can rarely be treated with the same methods. Often, in the case of broken bones or burns or other common injuries, the body will simply heal itself and allow you to return to your daily life. But with chronic pain, the source can be extremely difficult or impossible to discern. No one treatment option can be successful for everyone, because pain manifests differently and has countless influences depending on the individual experiencing it.

Chronic pain sometimes can result from medical conditions or injuries, but very often has no traceable source. Bringing chronic pain to the attention of medical professionals in the hopes of finding a one-size-fits-all cure can often cause even more conflict and stress than the pain itself, especially when treatment after treatment fails to have any effect.

If you recently have been diagnosed with chronic pain or a condition from which chronic pain developed, you have a vast array of treatment options available to you. Understanding which would be best to pursue depends on your experiences. With that in mind, here is a short overview of the two most basic models.

Biomedical Treatment

When people suffering from chronic pain go to their doctors, the response is often to prescribe medication – usually opioids or anti-inflammatory drugs. Opioids are especially strong painkillers that affect the brain’s ability to perceive pain, but require careful observation from doctors, due to how easily one may become addicted to them. Many chronic pain sufferers take opioids for when pain becomes particularly debilitating.

For controlling inflammation, corticosteroids or NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) will often be prescribed, but also can lead to unwanted side effects such as weight gain. Common chronic pain conditions treated by anti-inflammatory medication include arthritis or low back pain. Anti-depressants are also prescribed in many chronic pain cases, since they too affect the brain’s ability to sense pain.

In the case of chronic pain resulting from injuries, surgery can be an option as well. But as with all treatment options, surgeries cannot provide a cure for chronic pain. And in some unfortunate cases, chronic pain can result from surgery itself. Though many medications exist to manage pain, they rarely can account for all the variables in a person’s life. The onus is on a physician to eradicate complex pain with limited options. In difficult situations like these, alternative treatment methods become vital to recovery.

Non-Medical Treatment

One of the many reasons chronic pain can be so debilitating and disheartening is because so much of the experience of pain makes a patient feel powerless. When pain doesn’t respond to treatment after treatment, from opioids to surgery, it takes away one’s sense of agency. But many alternative, non-medical treatment paths require patients to actively participate in their own recovery. Non-medical methods open the door to examine pain in a broader light and address all the varying psychological and physical factors that contribute to one’s experience of pain.

Some simple practices that patients can perform themselves that often result in positive outcomes in chronic pain cases are exercise, massage, meditation, and psychotherapy. Still, no cure exists for chronic pain, but putting more power back into patients’ hands through activities like these has been known to have a positive impact and relieve some of the stress associated with these conditions.

Tied with the idea of alternative treatment methods for chronic pain is the concept of functional restoration as opposed to a cure. Instead of applying a limited scope of options to a diverse problem, functional restoration is concerned with empowering patients and treating pain like the complex condition it is.

Chronic pain varies from individual to individual, and the way it is treated should too. To learn more about multidisciplinary pain treatment options, contact us at info@institutesofhealth.org or call us at (858) 465-6194