What Are the Treatments for Chronic Pain?
The treatments for chronic pain are as diverse as the causes. From over-the-counter and prescription drugs to mind/body techniques to acupuncture, there are a lot of approaches. But when it comes to treating chronic pain, no single technique is guaranteed to produce complete pain relief. Relief may be found by using a combination of treatment options.
Drug Therapy: Nonprescription and Prescription
Milder forms of pain may be relieved by over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs relieve pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness, and additionally NSAIDs reduce inflammation (swelling and irritation). Topical pain relievers are also available, such as creams, lotions, or sprays that are applied to the skin in order to relieve pain and inflammation from sore muscles and arthritis.
If over-the-counter drugs do not provide relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications, such as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs (such as diazepam [Valium]), antidepressants (like duloxetine [Cymbalta] for musculoskeletal pain), prescription NSAIDs such as celecoxib (Celebrex), or a short course of stronger painkillers (such as codeine, fentanyl [Duragesic, Actiq], oxycodone and acetominophen (Percocet, Roxicet, Tylox) or hydrocodone and acetominophen (Lorcet, Lortab, and Vicodin). A limited number of steroid injections at the site of a joint problem can reduce swelling and inflammation. An epidural might be given for spinal stenosis or lower back pain.