Ongoing joint pain or conditions like Osteoarthritis are examples of chronic pain. Acute pain, on the other hand, is categorized as sudden and severe discomfort. So, if you cut your finger with a knife while chopping vegetables, don’t fret. Painful injuries like these usually go away within a relatively short period of time.
Risk factors for chronic pain include:
- Previous injury
- Previous surgery
- Being female9
Researchers are still working to figure out why women are more susceptible to chronic pain.10
Visit your healthcare professional to best understand what causes your chronic pain. Together, you can tailor a treatment plan that works for you and addresses your underlying causes of chronic pain.
Treatment of chronic pain
Treating chronic pain can help you regain your joy of movement, so you can feel a little bit more like yourself again.
Medicated pain treatments include:
NSAIDs like diclofenac, the active ingredient in Iodex UltraGel can be effective at relieving some types of pain, including the painful flare-ups that people with chronic pain can experience. Many NSAIDs are available over the counter. Always follow the product instructions.
- Muscle relaxants
Muscle relaxants may be prescribed by your physician. They can help alleviate painful muscle spasms.
Opioids are powerful painkillers. However, they carry with them a high risk of addiction and dependency. Discuss carefully with your physician.
In low doses, some anti-depressants have been shown to be effective in relieving pain.11 In order to be effective, they are usually prescribed to be taken every day, and not on an as-needed basis.
There are lots of things that can help to keep you moving without pain medication. Non-medicated chronic pain treatments include:
Stress can make chronic pain worse.12 Relaxation techniques may help you reduce stress in your life and might help to lessen pain.13 They may also improve your quality of sleep, which has a large impact on chronic pain.14
Eating well and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can contribute to overall wellness. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight can take physical strain off your body, thereby helping to ease pain.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy, using techniques such as stretching exercises and massage, may help ease chronic pain. This can help to strengthen the muscles around your joints, which will help support them and prevent problems. The goal of physical therapy is to increase your strength and flexibility gradually, so you get back on your feet.15
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It is a tool often used by doctors and physical therapists alike to help block chronic pain signals to the brain using electrodes attached to the skin, relieving your pain without additional medication.16
- Light exercise
Light exercise can strengthen your muscles, relieving pressure on your joints. This can help decrease joint pain.17 One of the benefits of regular exercise is that it reduces the risk of and can improve symptoms of chronic pain symptoms, like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and back or joint pain.18 Weight management, a frequent result of exercise, can also help reduce joint pain.
Stretching keeps your muscles loose, which can relieve pressure on your joints. A regular stretching routine can keep your muscles strong and healthy, resulting in increased range of motion.19 Check out our stretches for knee pain and stretches for back pain.
If your pain isn’t serious and is a type that you and your healthcare provider deem can be managed yourself, it’s important to get on top of it so it doesn’t hold you back from getting on with life. That way you can regain courage to continue doing the things you love, without worrying about pain.