Finding the right way to treat your pain can be life-changing. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more Americans are affected by chronic pain than by cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined.
The most common type of chronic pain is back pain. In fact, half of all working Americans report having some back pain symptoms each year.
What Causes Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can have one or several causes. Causes include disease, injury, and normal effects of aging. Depending on the type of pain, doctors may identify one or more sources for the pain.
For instance, back pain can be caused by of poor posture over the course of years; being overweight (which creates extra pressure on the back and needs); injury, which can be caused by lifting and moving heavy objects improperly, as well as by other physical trauma; years of wearing high heels; sleeping on a bad mattress; degenerative issues due to normal aging; or sometimes no cause is apparent.
Other chronic pain can be due to diseases such as different forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia. Other diseases can cause pain, as well, in addition to other effects of the disease. These include diseases like cancer, AIDS, stomach ulcers, gallbladder disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Traumatic injury can also cause chronic pain. Sports injuries, as well as injuries from workplace accidents and car crashes, are common causes of injury-related pain.
Complicating the issue is the fact that some chronic pain can develop a psychological aspect which persists even after the disease or injury heals, making it hard to pin down the underlying cause of the pain. Healthcare providers often have to try a number of different treatments to find the cause of and solution to chronic pain.
Oral Medication Treatments for Chronic Pain
A lot of attention has recently been focused on the misuse of pain medications for non-medical purposes. This is especially true of opioid medications. However, these medications do have their place when used according to a doctor’s instruction and under continued medical supervision.
Before prescribing opioid medications, your doctor may start with pain relief medications with fewer side effects. These include common medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol ), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Other treatments include corticosteroid medications, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants.
If your doctor does prescribe an opioid, be sure to follow all manufacturer’s and doctor’s directions. Never take an opioid pain medication that is not prescribed to you. Do not change your own doses. Never mix opioid medications with alcohol, and let your doctor know if you take any anti-anxiety medications or sleep aids, as these may be dangerous.
Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medications you are taking. To avoid accidental overdoses, make sure you know what time you are taking your medications. For the safety of others, make sure you keep your medications in a secure, locked location and promptly dispose of any leftover medication.
Other Chronic Pain Treatments
There are a number of other treatments for chronic pain that do not include oral medications. One non-oral medication treatment that is commonly used is the direct applications of steroid treatment by injection.
Other treatments, such as nerve blocks, do not include any medication. When all other options are exhausted, your doctor may suggest a surgical solution, depending on the type and cause of the pain.