Pain Management: What Treatment Options are Available?

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Who Helps a Patient with Pain Management?

Pain management is a serious issue for patients in chronic pain from conditions such as a back injury or cancer. Finding ways to relieve or control an individual’s pain is important enough that health care workers now receive specialized training in this treatment area. With more people living longer life spans, discovering new treatment methods for long-term pain control is essential. Fortunately, medical researchers are learning how to control pain with safer medications that do not lead to serious side effects or addiction. For a patient with a serious or terminal health condition, a team of medical experts is required to give someone a higher quality of life. Some of the members on a pain management team can include:

• Registered nurses – working in physician’s offices, hospitals and nursing homes
• Home health aides – visiting elderly or terminally ill patients inside a home
• Physical therapists – working in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities
• Pharmacists – dispensing oral or intravenous medications for pain
• Psychologists – offering behavioral modification techniques
• Physicians – caring for patients in medical centers

In most cases, an individual requiring pain management receives care from multiple health care workers at once. A patient may also choose nontraditional pain management such as massages from a qualified therapist or acupuncture from an acupuncturist. Consuming a healthy diet with all of the necessary nutrients may lead to a person in chronic pain needing specialized meals that are planned by a dietitian.

Types of Treatments used for Pain Management in Medical Facilities and at Home

There are a wide variety of treatments used in pain management, including:

• Analgesics – over-the-counter or prescription
• Heat or cold therapy – to reduce pain in joints or muscles
• Biofeedback – using mental processes to overcome pain
• Exercise or physical therapy – increased blood circulation and healing
• Antidepressants – relief of depression that commonly occurs due to chronic pain
• Surgical procedures – repairing pinched nerves or other problems
• Braces or splints – stabilizing limbs or other body parts
• Nerve stimulation – repairing damaged nerves
• Acupuncture – insertion of sharp needles in the body
• Painkillers – usually opioids reserved for acute pain

A Pain Ladder Approach Helps to Determine Appropriate Treatment

Health care workers use a pain ladder approach to determine the level of discomfort a patient is experiencing to help choose the best pain management treatment. While the public often hears about large numbers of individuals becoming addicted to pain medications, there are statistics that there are many people needing pain management who are not helped. There is a misconception that chronic pain is a normal part of the aging process, leading to practitioners not prescribing medication or treatments. In addition, there are individuals who are unable to afford medications that could relieve their pain.