Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Chronic Pain: Integrative Treatments

Nontraditional techniques, coupled with trusted drug therapies, are lifting the spirits of chronic pain sufferers.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature

For decades, Mary Sienkiewicz, now 42, could barely get out of bed in the morning because of the severe lower back pain that radiated down her legs. This past summer, however, she was able to Rollerblade through her hometown of Schererville, Ind.

Sienkiewicz's pain, which she describes as a "deep aching and weakness with pulsating and throbbing," began after a car accident in 1986. "I lost my 20s and 30s because of this pain. If I ever did anything active, I suffered for three to four days afterward," says the financial planner, who recently returned to work after years of disability.

Recommended Related to Pain Management

Prescription Painkiller Addiction: 7 Myths

Prescription pain medicine addiction grabs headlines when it sends celebrities spinning out of control. It also plagues many people out of the spotlight who grapple with painkiller addiction behind closed doors. But although widespread, addiction to prescription painkillers is also widely misunderstood -- and those misunderstandings can be dangerous and frightening for patients dealing with pain. Where is the line between appropriate use and addiction to prescription pain medicines? And how can...

Read the Prescription Painkiller Addiction: 7 Myths article > >

She didn't take the pain lying down. Since the accident, she had undergone two surgeries to repair the herniated disc in her back and tried just about every type of medication and therapy out there. Nothing made a difference for long.

All that changed when Sienkiewicz entered a four-week "boot camp" for people in chronic pain at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), one of the nation's first multidisciplinary pain clinics.

"It was extremely intense," she recalls. With sessions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the program is composed of aerobic exercise to help boost the body's natural painkillers, called endorphins; individualized physical therapy; biofeedback lessons; psychological counseling to help the patient accept and function better with pain; and medication to treat some of the underlying tissue problems and other issues, including pain-related depression and sleeping difficulties.

"My pain went down from a level of seven or eight --- if not a 10 or higher --- to a one or a two," she says. "It's not a quick fix, and if you stop practicing what you learned, the pain will return," she cautions, but that knowledge gave Sienkiewicz the incentive to continue with her individualized program.

Integrative Approach to Chronic Pain

Clinics and programs with a multidisciplinary, or comprehensive, approach to pain management are becoming more popular as people reject the traditional pill-and-surgery model of treating pain because, like Sienkiewicz, they find it's not always effective.

In a 2004 survey, conducted on behalf of the American Chronic Pain Association, 72% of people with chronic pain said they had had pain for more than three years --- including 34% who had had it for more than 10 years. Nearly half said their pain was not under control. Such uncontrolled pain has ripple effects on jobs, relationships, and the ability to lead a normal life.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

pain in brain and nerves
Top causes and how to find relief.
knee exercise
8 exercises for less knee pain.
 
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
 
illustration of nerves in hand
Slideshow
lumbar spine
Slideshow
 
Woman opening window
Slideshow
Man holding handful of pills
Video
 
Woman shopping for vegetables
Slideshow
Sore feet with high heel shoes
Slideshow
 
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Slideshow
man with a migraine
Slideshow