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What are other strategies besides medication for managing chronic pain?

Dr. Jennifer N. Caudle, DO
Family Practitioner

Besides medications, other treatment options used to manage chronic pain can include physical or occupational therapy, e-stimulators, ultrasound and osteopathic treatments. Watch family medicine physician Jennifer Caudle, DO, describe these options.

Besides medication for chronic pain it's important to learn about self-management. Self-management is about people taking charge of how they live with chronic pain. The medical team will help people make and follow a pain plan.

Things that people can do for themselves, like exercise and relaxation, make it easier to cope with pain. With exercise, balance and stamina are going to get better. This means that even with chronic pain, people will be able to do more of the things they want to do. Exercise may also help lessen the pain.

Joining a support group, too, and meeting other people with chronic pain can also be helpful.

Dr. Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon
Taking your medication as directed is an important part of your chronic pain management. But it's not a good idea to rely on medication alone to manage your pain. Your doctor will work with you to choose other strategies to try as well. Examples include:
  • Relaxation. This can include meditation, deep breathing, listening to music, or other strategies.
  • Physical or occupational therapy. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for these therapies. Physical therapy can reduce pain and help you regain movement and strength. Occupational therapy can give you strategies to live better despite a certain amount of pain.
  • Exercise, healthy eating, and other lifestyle changes. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes that can reduce your pain over time.
  • Medical procedures, such as injections or surgery. Depending on your condition, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for evaluation.
  • Emotional or spiritual support. Talking with a counselor, friend, or support group can help you manage pain.
  • Psychological counseling. Your doctor may also refer you to a psychologist to build coping skills and deal with issues that can be caused by pain.
  • Alternative therapies. For some pain conditions, alternative therapies such as acupuncture can be helpful. If you try any of these therapies on your own, be sure to keep your doctor informed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.