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Chronic Pain Treatments

Updated on May 21, 2014

Chronic Pain: A Major Public Health Problem

We all know what pain is. It is an uneasy feeling and/or an unlikable sensation in the body. Actually, pain serves as a useful biological message. It tells us, hey look ! Your body is at risk; take care from further damage to the body. Pain can arise due to a disease or injury to the body.

We can classify pain as acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain subsides following treatments, whereas chronic pain which is difficult to treat may last for months or in some cases patients suffers with it for life time. Pain can also be classified based on its location such as muscle pain, somatic pain or visceral pain. Based on the disease it is associated with, we can classify them neuropathic pain (pain arising due to damage to nervous system), cancer pain, etc.

Treatments

Pain treatment plans depends on individuals overall health and personal preferences. Research has shown a strong variability among individuals in terms of pain response and treatments. Normally, the first step in pain treatment is usually pharmacologic, along with cognitive and behavioral approaches in more chronic stages. Opioid drugs (e.g. morphine) are gold standard in treating severe acute and persistent pain. Chronic pain has to be treated for months, years or even lifetime in terminal conditions such as cancer. Prolonged exposure to opioid drugs results in adverse side effects such as depression of breathing, nausea, clouding of consciousness, constipation, addiction and tolerance. Therefore, the development of novel pain treatments that do not cause the common side effects is urgently needed for any society.

Alternatively, persistent pain is also controlled using neurostimulatory blocks (apply tiny electrical impulse to stimulate the nerves or spinal cord so that the pain signals are blocked reaching brain); surgical intervention (e.g., spine surgery); diathermy (heat deep tissue using high-frequency electrical current); cryotherapy (reducing inflammation by exposing to freezing temperatures); physical therapy such as massage, exercise, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and joint handling.

Chronic pain research

Research in the field is continuing to understand the mechanisms of chronic pain and to develop novel approach to control chronic pain. Several government organizations such as National Institute of Health has recognized chronic pain as a major health care problem and are supporting funded research in the field. Additionally, in U.S., several Pain Clinics/Centers have come up in last two decades with the mission to promote strong clinical service, education and research to develop novel pain management strategies.

Funding for chronic pain research

Should we support funding for chronic pain research ?

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    • Bopi-Cheppu profile image
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      Bopi-Cheppu 5 years ago from San Antonio, TX, U.S.A

      Surfboard Shark, Thank you for the comments and visit.