How to Manage Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a set of conditions with a massive impact on public health, as an estimated 20 percent or more of American adults have some form of it. Managing pain involves a diverse set of approaches for addressing both acute and chronic pain. Every patient's experience with pain is different, but below you'll find an overview of how it's classified and the different forms managing it can take.
Managing pain first starts with understanding what type it is. Loosely speaking, pain is traditionally divided up into two categories:
Acute pain: Pain of recent onset, that is short-term and typically from an identifiable cause.
Chronic Pain is also called persistent pain, and comprises an ongoing or recurrent pain that lasts beyond the usual course of illness or healing from injury. This pain is often classified as lasting more than 3 to 6 months, as well as adversely affecting the patient's well-being.
Chronic pain is also defined as, simply, pain that continues when it should not. It is classified even further:
- Nociceptive pain: caused by ongoing tissue injury.
- Neuropathic pain: caused by damage to the central nervous system.
Passive Intervention: includes treatments delivered by a physician or therapist that require no active participation by the patient. Examples include:
- Biofeedback: the use of electronic bodily monitoring to train someone to control a bodily function.
- Electrical stimulation: using mild electrical pulses on the muscles to reduce pain and improve movement and function. Also known as TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.
- Injections: injecting medication into a muscle or joint at the source of pain, commonly with local anesthetics or anti-inflammatory steroids like corticosteroids.
- Nerve block: anesthetic or anti-inflammatory injections around a nerve or bundle of nerves.
Types of Medication: Pain medications have become a source of contention thanks to the over-prescribing of opioid pain relievers that caused much of the current opioid crisis. However, there are plenty of safer options for medication.:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: acetaminophen, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, and ibuprofen.
- Adjuvant analgesics: these are not primarily designed to control pain, but can help manage chronic pain. Antidepressants or anticonvulsants are sometimes used in this capacity.
Topical pain relievers: Topical gels or creams like Mountain Ice can provide relief for numerous types of chronic pain, such as arthritis.
Active Intervention: includes treatments that require the patient to exert energy as part of the process. This typically involves interaction with a doctor or therapist. Examples include:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
This can include anything a patient can carry out independently beyond an initial period of instruction. Self-directed intervention can range include many different techniques and approaches to improving your own quality of life. These may include:
- Self-care techniques: mindfulness meditation, progressive relaxation exercises.
- Nutrition management.
- Medication scheduling.
- Exercise regimens: yoga, tai chi.
- Physical reconditioning.
This is a holistic approach to pain management with a goal of improving or restoring a patient's enjoyment of and engagement with their own life. This approaches not only the pain and its source, but related psychological and social aspects of managing pain and physical function. These can include:
- Improving mood.
- Maintaining sleep quality.
- Reducing reliance on medication, especially pain relievers.
- Addressing anxiety or fear stemming from chronic pain or injury.
- Increasing social engagement.
- Ergonomic accommodation at home and work.
- Ensuring employment quality.
We developed Mountain Ice because we wanted to provide people with a source for fast, effective topical pain relief. Mountain Ice can help relieve your morning aches and pain quickly by penetrating deep into your joints and reducing swelling, giving you valuable temporary relief while working through your morning stiffness. It also has numerous properties that improve circulation, and that increased blood flow can help you be at your best much sooner in the morning.