People who deal with chronic pain, whether it is due to a known condition or whether it is of unknown origin, may be using a one-dimensional strategy for managing their pain. Treating the pain itself is a small part of an overall pain management strategy.
Aim For A Synergistic Medication Effect
Some medications are used for their direct pain-relieving benefits, such as narcotic pain relievers, or because they reduce pain as part of controlling an underlying disease process. Most treatment plans are more effective when you have several different types of medications working together to address pain. For example, the synergistic (combined) effect of an analgesic and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) may work as well or better than an analgesic alone in diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, or other conditions with a neuropathic cause. The benefit lies in managing pain without complete reliance on analgesics, using a lower dose of any one medication and reducing possible side effects, and targeting pain via different modalities.
Even an intermittent synergistic effect can have benefits, such as reducing tolerance to analgesics, especially narcotic pain relievers. For example, corticosteroids are often avoided as a long-term treatment for managing inflammation. However, on days or weeks when they are used, your use of analgesics will be lower, thereby helping you avoid building a tolerance to the same dose of pain medication.
Address The Mental And Social Components
In some cases, patients refuse to admit there are mental and social components to chronic pain, partly due to fear their pain will be brushed off as purely psychological. Additionally, not every doctor discusses this concern with their patients as an adjunctive approach to managing chronic pain. Chronic pain in itself can contribute to mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression. When mental health concerns are superimposed on chronic pain, it can make the pain worse and more difficult to manage. Similarly, the way chronic pain can affect relationships can make dealing with the physical aspects of pain harder. Many chronic pain sufferers find their condition is isolating and often friends and family are not as understanding as they need them to be.
No matter whether you believe mental health concerns are a problem or not, it does not hurt to speak with a psychologist, especially one who specializes in health psychology. Some people find using antidepressants or antianxiety medications in combination with therapy sessions makes it easier for them to deal with the day-to-day hurdles of chronic pain. If you feel like your relationships are strained, speaking with a psychologist is a good way to learn strategies that may help you convey your feelings to those around you and possibly help them understand your condition.
Consider The Benefits Of Alternative Approaches
Sometimes deep breathing exercises may be useful in reducing anxiety when your pain is at its highest. When you are in pain, especially significant pain, you may naturally hold your breath or tense your muscles. Although it is a natural response to pain, it often makes the pain worse. Distraction techniques may also have temporary benefits when dealing with chronic pain. Play your favorite song while you are waiting for the worst of the pain to subside or as you wait for your pain medicine to start working. If you have a mobile device, keep a music playlist readily available when you are away from home so you can take a break to manage a pain flare-up.
Art is a common coping mechanism for many people with chronic pain. The art you choose may take the form of coloring, but you might want to tackle something more extravagant, such as oil or acrylic painting. Many people who engage in art therapy to mitigate chronic pain find the overall stress-relieving benefits can make pain temporarily more tolerable.
Chronic pain is most often a physical issue, but there are additional considerations that can make pain worse or more difficult to deal with. By using a multidimensional approach to coping with chronic pain, you may find tactics that make the stress of daily pain more tolerable. For more information on pain management, contact a medical center like Pain Relief Center.