The Complete Guide to Managing Chronic Pain


Common Medications for Chronic Pain Management

Medical Marijuana

While one of the more polarizing pain medications, some people report feeling significant relief from this treatment option.

A benchmark study conducted in Canada found that the medical use of cannabis can safely help reduce pain.

Side effects included drowsiness, dizziness, and headache, but patients did not experience any increase in serious side effects. In addition, pain patients who used cannabis saw significant improvements in pain levels, mood, and quality of life compared to the group who didn’t use cannabis.

However, there has been contradictory evidence on the benefit of medical marijuana for different chronic pain conditions. This option should only be used where legal and on the advice of a medical practitioner.

Opioids

These medications work by mimicking your body’s natural opioid pain relief system and include tramadol, morphine, oxycontin, fentanyl, and others, which range in strength.

Opioids are one of the most controversial pain medications. Some argue that over-prescription has led to an addiction epidemic. Others point out that people with chronic pain have taken opioids at a stable dose for many years without abusing them.

Regardless of where you come down on this debate, it’s best to use these drugs in close consultation with your doctor.

Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain Management

If you’re interested in using alternative therapies with the conjunction of pain medications, or not, for chronic pain management, I suggest trying or looking into these therapies that I’ve listed below.

Manual Therapies

When it comes to hands-on treatments like massage, physical therapy, and acupuncture, the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that “a growing body of evidence suggests that some complementary approaches … may help to manage some painful conditions.”

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Finding the right therapist is key to getting the most benefit from your treatment sessions.

For example, I have had healing, therapeutic massages and painful, flare-inducing massages. Through trial and error, I learned that the primary difference was the training and experience of the massage therapist. When you contact a prospective therapist, ask whether they have experience treating clients who have similar chronic pain conditions to yours.

Do not go to a spa or aesthetician for pain treatment.

Always ask a potential therapist if they are a member in good standing of a professional association to ensure that they have a high level of certification and ongoing training.

Physical Therapy (Physiotherapy)

Treats chronic pain through evidence-based “strengthening and flexibility exercises, manual therapy, posture awareness, and body mechanics instruction.” Physical therapy helped me overcome my lower back pain, which was one of the most debilitating symptoms of my fibromyalgia.

Massage Therapy

Can relieve pain because it increases blood circulation, encourages cell oxygenation and nutrition, relieves muscle tension, and releases natural painkillers like serotonin (Prevention). For example, massage has been found to improve pain levels, sleep, and mood in people living with fibromyalgia.

Next Page: See how alternative therapies and mind-body medicine for chronic pain management can help. 

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Katarina ZulakKatarina Zulak

Katarina Zulak is an ePatient blogger and health writer. Six years ago she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. On her blog, she writes about learning to be skillfully well, even when living with a chronic condition. Katarina lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and their cat Lily.

Oct 29, 2018
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