Chronic pain and how to cope

Published On: Sep 27 2012 02:22:57 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 09 2012 02:04:20 PM CDT

By Betty Russell, Pure Matters

Chronic pain, whether it comes and goes or is constant, makes it impossible to do your normal activities without discomfort. Chronic pain can be the result of an injury, illness or medical condition, or its cause may be unknown. Yet, most people with chronic pain can lessen it to tolerable levels, regardless of the cause, according to the American Chronic Pain Association.

These are common types of chronic pain:

Pain and inflammation may actually change the nervous system. Because of this, pain may linger long after the physical injury that caused it has healed.

Living with chronic pain can lure you into feeling helpless about your condition. It can cause emotional problems or physical limitations that threaten your relationships, hamper your job performance and limit your activities. Anxiety, depression, anger, hopelessness or desperation about the pain can make it seem worse. This can, in turn, alter your personality and disrupt family and work relationships. Chronic pain can interfere with sleep, leaving you tired and less able to cope with the pain.

No single pain treatment works for everyone, and it's easy to feel like giving up if you've tried several treatments that haven't worked. You may have to wade through a lot of hype and controversy that leave you scratching your head and wondering: What's effective? What's safe? What's my best strategy?

Here are steps you can take to manage your pain and feel more in control:

Many options for treatment

Most treatments will not get rid of all the pain, but they can reduce the amount of pain you have and how frequently you have it. Treatment can increase your ability to move and remain independent. Most treatment plans involve a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.

Medication

Many types of medication are used to treat chronic pain. Some drugs are long-acting to treat pain that is continuous; others are short-acting to treat pain that comes and goes. Some medications come in pill form, some as injections.

These are common pain-relieving medications, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), a group of doctors who specialize in relieving pain:

You and your health care provider need to choose medications carefully, based on the cause of your pain and how severe it is, as well as your risk for gastrointestinal or cardiovascular problems and addiction.

If you are taking prescribed pain medication, do NOT take OTC pain relievers, herbal medicines or dietary supplements unless you check with your health care provider first. Many of these can interact with prescribed medications and cause serious problems.

More options

Life would be simpler if taking a pill meant the end of chronic pain, but that's not true for many pain sufferers. Medications may not be the best option for mild pain. Medications don't help some people, and other people don't want to take them every day. Even when medications help, many people still face a lot of pain.

Fortunately, other options, alone or with medication, can help. Here are some to consider: