(DGIwire) – Those experiencing chronic pain have an array of sources of information at their disposal. One such resource is WebMD’s Chronic Pain Assessment tool. Although its specific recommendations depend on the exact nature and duration of the pain being felt, the tool provides several general tips to get started on the road to improved treatment. Here are four initial considerations to keep in mind:
- Understand the various types of pain: People often think of pain as a symptom. But when pain doesn’t go away it becomes a condition. There are four types of pain: inflammatory pain is swelling and tenderness that occurs when the body tries to protect itself against injury or infection. Mechanical pain and compressive pain occur in the back; they’re often caused by a problem between two bones of the spine or in a joint. Muscle pain occurs when muscles get stiff, swollen or they spasm. Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage.
- Ask a doctor relevant questions: These include determining which treatments would work best for a specific kind of pain; to what extent the treatment will relieve the pain; how soon the treatment can be expected to work; what the common side effects are and what to do if they are experienced; how might the treatment interact with other medicines being taken; and what to do if the pain does not stop or comes back while on a particular treatment.
- Consider a wide range of treatments: If the first course of pain treatment does not seem to be working, work with a doctor for a better pain management plan. Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, may help reduce pain. A doctor might recommend more than one type of treatment. For example, a pain reliever might be needed plus exercise or physical therapy and stress relief. Using different treatments can help manage pain and reduce its effects on daily life.
- Take additional steps to minimize pain: First, be careful with drug and alcohol use; they can interfere with the pain medicines a doctor prescribes. Second, do not hesitate to seek social support; when in pain, it can be comforting to talk with close friends and family members. Joining a support group can help, too; other people who are in pain may be able to understand what it is like to go through the experience.
“Chronic pain can severely impact quality of life—and getting the best information as quickly as possible is paramount,” says Mark Sirgo, President and CEO of BioDelivery Sciences. “Given the risks of opioid addiction and overdose, it’s important for patients to fully understand their treatment options.”
One drawback of long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain is that it can lead to concerns about drug abuse, misuse and addiction. However, newer products and formulations exist for treating chronic pain that are effective, well-tolerated and have a lower potential for abuse, misuse and addiction. Specifically, for chronic long-term pain, there is an effective option with a Schedule III designation, which means it has less potential for addiction and abuse than other opioid drugs classified as Schedule II by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“It is important for chronic pain patients to ask their doctors about alternative options for long-term pain relief that may be right for them,” Sirgo adds.