Developing a Comprehensive Chronic Pain Care Plan
A comprehensive pain management plan can help you feel better physically and mentally. Although it isn’t possible to eliminate all your pain, a pain management program can reduce your discomfort and teach you to respond differently to pain so that it doesn’t interfere with your daily life as much.
When you experience pain, the first step in a Chronic Pain Care plan is to determine what type of pain it is. Your provider will ask you to describe the location and intensity of the pain, whether it stays in one place or moves (radiates) from one area to another, how often you feel it and if the pain gets worse with certain activities. This information will help your healthcare provider develop the best treatment.
The types of pain that your healthcare provider can treat with medications include:
Pain from tissue damage, such as a sore knee or a cut. This pain usually gets worse when you exercise or put pressure on the affected area. Pain from nerve damage, called neuropathic pain, is caused by problems with your nervous system. This can occur due to diabetes, multiple sclerosis or HIV infection. Neuropathic pain can feel like burning, tingling or throbbing. It might be achy or sharp, and it may get worse when you are stressed.
Injections and stimulations: Your healthcare provider may recommend a series of injections into your painful areas, including steroid injections. These can reduce swelling and relieve muscle spasms. Your healthcare provider might also recommend a device that sends electrical pulses into your body to decrease pain, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or radiofrequency ablation.
Hands-on treatments: Your healthcare provider can provide massage, acupuncture, osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and chiropractic adjustments. These techniques can reduce your pain, improve alignment and help your body work more efficiently.
Lifestyle changes: You can lower your risk of chronic pain by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and managing stress levels. Your provider can also teach you how to use coping tools to down-regulate your danger/threat response, balance your body and mind and learn to relax.
Other comorbidities: People with chronic pain are more likely to have other health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, that can make the pain worse. These comorbidities can also make it difficult to treat the pain.
It’s important to talk with your healthcare providers about the impact of these comorbidities on your chronic pain, so they can plan how to best treat it. For example, if you are depressed, you might benefit from medication and therapy to treat the depression as well as using relaxation techniques, such as meditation or breathing exercises, to help you deal with the pain. You might also consider keeping a pain diary to help you identify patterns in your pain, such as when it gets better or worse and how it affects your mood. This can help you and your healthcare providers decide how to manage it best.