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5 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can make daily living difficult. Here are 5 tips and some different approaches to pain treatment that may help you find something new.

By 1MD Nutrition Editorial Staff

7 minute read

Last Updated February 7, 2022

 5 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

If chronic pain is a part of your life, it’s time to better understand what’s causing it and look at treatment options. Each person is unique in their pain and what works to help get through the day. But nobody should live with pain. Try these helpful options to see what keeps you comfortable and moving forward through life.

1. Pain Medications

Due to the fact that most management plans will include a pain medication of some sort, the following is a brief explanation of the most common pain medications, both over-the-counter and prescription options:

♦ Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can help with pain, inflammation, and fever.

♦ Corticosteroids are a strong anti-inflammatory and can help relieve pain.

♦ Acetaminophen doesn’t help with inflammation, but it does increase the body’s pain threshold.

♦ Opioids modify pain messages in the brain.

♦ Muscle relaxers reduce pain from tense muscles by using a sedative that works for the central nervous system.

♦ Anti-anxiety medications reduce anxiety, relax muscles, and help patients deal with existing discomfort.

♦ Antidepressants, particularly tricyclics, can reduce pain signals sent through the spinal cord.

♦ Anticonvulsants are used to relieve nerve pain.

It’s important to seek medical advice and assistance in working through your individual pain symptoms and the options available to you. Not only does your pain need to be considered, but your overall health and other medications need to be factored in as well.

2. Over-the-Counter Medications

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever is probably the most common treatment for chronic pain, at least initially. The goal is to manage the pain with a common medication like acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Most of these are administered orally, but sometimes topical medications can also be used to target specific areas of pain.

Unfortunately, many over-the-counter pain relievers come with side effects. A study looking into over-the-counter pain medications and side effects found that, in addition to potential gastrointestinal irritation, there is also a risk of renal and hepatic problems with long-term use of some over-the-counter medications.

While there are risks associated with regular use of all over-the-counter pain medications, those risks seem to increase as patients age. This means that not every patient is a good candidate for this type of treatment, and it might not be the best long-term solution.

3. Prescription Pain Medications

If you’re someone who does not find adequate relief from over-the-counter medications or you suffer from some of the known side effects, a prescription might be a better option.

Because pain can be associated with a disease, injury, or surgery, the process of treating that pain is very complex. It might require a combination of medications, and each person will have a different pathway to relief.

Your doctor can help you navigate the best possible prescriptions based on your symptoms and overall health.

4. Supplements for Relief

If you’re interested in trying some natural pain relief options, supplements might be a good choice. The first step is to note what type of pain you have and then find a supplement that features all-natural ingredients that target your ailment.

♦ Joint pain sufferers want to look for supplements that contain Boswellia serrata extract to help with joint function and mobility. The addition of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, is also a good way to fight pain.

♦ Chronic lower back pain is a real problem for many, with about 80 percent of adults reporting low back pain at some point in time. Capsicum (or capsaicin) comes from chili peppers, and when used in skin creams, it can provide soothing relief to your back.

Chronic headaches or migraines are another common complaint. White willow bark, caffeine, Boswellia serrata, feverfew, and butterbur are natural remedies often recommended for headaches.

5. Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies give you additional coping skills and a different perspective on pain management. They’re less invasive and often instill in you a sense of self-control that many people prefer. Some options include:

Cognitive-behavioral therapies for pain management teach you to retrain your thought process from focusing on the pain to something else.

♦ Physical therapy can help ease pain by giving the patient exercises designed specifically to improve strength in certain areas. This helps relieve stress in the areas that cause pain, and it lessens the chances of the pain continuing. It can also release endorphins in the brain that boost mood.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that uses very fine needles to restore the energy flow through your nerves. It has been proven to be an effective practice for many.

♦ Massage can literally rub away some of your pain symptoms. By manipulating muscles and soft tissues, your body is able to relax, and inflamed muscles are soothed.

♦ Biofeedback is a way for you to take charge and identify the process necessary to interrupt the normal flow and change the way you physically feel.

♦ Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, mindful breathing exercises, and others can also benefit people with chronic pain by helping them master their emotions and reactions.

The Bottom Line

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, the one thing you’re constantly thinking about is relieving that pain. The good news is that there is something you can do to alleviate your pain. You have your choice of pain relievers, supplements, and alternative therapies.

The first step is to identify the type of pain you have and then look for the products that have shown efficacy in treating your symptoms. Finding the right combination of medications and therapies to give you the most comfort and sticking with the program is the best way to put yourself in a good position for effective pain management.