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Options for Managing Chronic Pain

RoseannMartocciaHeadshotRoseann MartocciaPain is always a difficult interruption in one’s daily routine when it interferes with activities and the ability to do what you want to do. When pain is caused by an injury, we expect it to improve with time and appropriate intervention or treatment. Pain that goes on for weeks or months or is ongoing is known as chronic pain. It may be due to a specific disease or condition or the cause may be unknown.

Pain is a feeling triggered by the nervous system which can be sharp, dull, localized, or you can feel it all over. Pain can be constant or intermittent. Pain is a perception that lets the person know that tissue damage has occurred or may be occurring. It is subjective and very complex, differing with each individual and the factors related to why the pain is happening. Chronic pain may be described as pain that lasts beyond the healing of an injury, continues for a period of several months or longer or occurs frequently for months.

Health care professionals classify chronic pain based on its characteristics: how it was caused along with the mechanisms of the body or the mind that may be involved in sustaining chronic pain. Many people have chronic pain, and finding ways to manage it is a key to both management of this ongoing part of your health and finding a combination of methods that work for you.

The term “integrative pain therapy” is used to describe a broad therapeutic approach to the management of chronic pain. This approach seeks to combine traditional treatments for pain and disability in combination with therapies that are considered to be complementary or alternative. The starting point to an integrative approach is a broad view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the foundations of health, including stress management, proper diet/nutrition, regular exercise and psychosocial support.

Integrative pain therapy draws from a broad spectrum of therapeutic approaches and values the inclusion of multiple approaches to manage pain. The goals of an integrated approach are first and foremost to reduce or eliminate the pain. In addition, appropriate medications are used but not as the only remedy. Educating individuals about their therapy is very important to maintaining gains made in rehab and avoiding re-injury. Just as important is the use of tools and strategies to reduce distress, enhance comfort and improve quality of life through improved understanding of the role of emotions, behavior and attitude in pain.

Living with chronic pain is not easy, but developing the skills and knowledge needed to increase your sense of control over pain is essential to managing it on a day-to-day basis.

Become a Healthy Living Leader or find help with our Chronic Pain Self-Management Program.