Are you ready to get your life back on track and spend more time doing the things you love? Pain management can do wonders. You just need to know what’s out there, and we’re here to help.

When it comes to controlling pain, there are lots of great options available. From pain management doctors to natural remedies, there are many ways to get relief. Options for managing chronic pain include medications, physical therapy, cold laser treatments, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi, and — thanks to changing laws across the country — medical marijuana.

Pain Management Clinics

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A new field of medicine has arisen in recent years to help patients manage chronic pain. Pain management clinics offer a variety of treatments for their patients. Among the treatment options provided by pain management doctors are a variety of injections, including trigger point injections and cortisone shots. Many pain management clinics also recommend that their patients use a device called a TENS unit, which uses electrical impulses to block the pain signals from reaching the pain. Among the most common methods used by pain management clinics are medications and physical therapy.

Medications for Pain

For patients whose pain is severe enough for them to seek advanced pain management care, prescription medications are often the core of their treatment plan. The first medications that come to mind for treating pain are narcotics. However, opiates are not the only prescription drug used to treat chronic pain. Other prescription medications commonly used to treat pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Celebrex; anti-convulsants, such as Neurontin; and tricyclic antidepressants, such as Cymbalta. NSAIDs are helpful when the pain is caused by inflammation of the body. Anti-convulsants are the most widely used medication to control neuropathic pain. Tricyclic antidepressants is used in chronic pain patients because it changes the way the brain perceives pain.

Physical therapy for pain

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One of the most commonly used medical interventions for managing pain is physical therapy. Physical therapy uses specific exercises and stretches to minimize pain, develop strength, mitigate muscle loss, and increase the range of motion and functionality of the affected area. Although it can be a bit time-consuming, as patients often need to meet with the physical therapist several times a week for several weeks, physical therapy is a highly effective method of treating pain, both acute and chronic.

Treating pain with cold laser therapy

Cold Laser Therapy, also known as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), uses specific wavelengths of light to interact with tissue. This treatment is believed to speed the healing process. Cold laser therapy also eliminates pain and swelling, reduces spasms and increases functionality. Cold lasers utilize a handheld device placed over the affected area of pain for several seconds to minutes. The procedure is not invasive, which means there is no downtime for recovery following the treatment. Cold laser therapy can be used to treat arthritis pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia pain, knee pain, neck pain, and tendonitis.

Alternative Pain Management Treatments

Not everyone is comfortable with taking pain medications long term, and insurance will usually only pay for a set number of visits to a physical therapist. Even those who use medications for pain management may find that it is not enough to bring their pain down to a tolerable level. Fortunately, there are alternative treatment options available to help get your pain under control.


This branch of traditional Chinese medicine existed for 3,500 before Western medicine came into existence. This ancient healing art works by works by applying needles, heat, and pressure to specific points on the body to reduce pain and various illnesses. According to Sara Calabro, acupuncturist and founder of AcuTake, the “side-effects” of acupuncture include “better sleep, more energy, mental clarity, better digestion, and less stress.” However, she adds that there are potential downsides to acupuncture, including “the potential to worsen symptoms of the problem being treated; fatigue; soreness; bruising; muscle twitching; lightheadedness; and emotional release (crying).” Although Medicaid and Medicare do not cover acupuncture, some private insurance companies do.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Stretching in any form can help control pain, but yoga and tai chi are particularly useful for pain management. Both yoga and tai chi are helpful for arthritis pain. They both also use slow, steady movements combined with mindfulness and controlled breathing. These gentle forms of exercise of safe for just about anyone, regardless of physical conditions. (Remember to always check with your doctor before embarking on any new exercise plan.)

Yoga is believed to reduce low back pain, improve function and quality of life, reduce stress, lower heart rate and blood pressure, help relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and improve overall physical fitness, strength, and flexibility. Tai chi can improve balance and stability in both older adults and those who have Parkinson’s.  It can reduce knee pain from osteoarthritis, help people cope with the realities of living with fibromyalgia and back pain, as well as promoting quality of life and mood in people with heart failure and cancer.

Medical Marijuana

Thanks to changing laws in states across the country, medical marijuana is now an option for people who suffer from chronic pain. For years, anecdotal evidence has shown that cannabis is an effective treatment option for pain management. Now, the laws are finally catching up.

According to the findings of a study from the University of Michigan, the use of medical marijuana improved quality of life, reduced opioid usage by an average of 64 percent and decreased side effects of other medications. Cannabis is effective for treating pain related to but not limited to general non-specific chronic pain (such as cancer pain or chronic neuropathic pain), low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, TMJ disorder, headaches, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, neck pain, HIV/AIDS-related pain, multiple sclerosis, central nervous system issues, accident and injury-related pain, and sciatica.


Choosing the Best Pain Management for You

Finding the right pain management options for you and your lifestyle can be a bit of a trial and error process. What works for someone else or for another condition may not be effective for you and your situation. Fortunately, there are doctors who specialize in controlling their patients’ pain and there are also a wide variety of alternative treatments available. With persistence and experimentation, you can find the right combination to ease your pain and get your life back.

Featured image CC by 2.0, by Esther Max, via Flickr

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