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Pain Clinics Overview

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Strategies for Pain Relief and Management continued...

Often, medications alone aren't enough to treat chronic pain. Other treatments may be more effective than medications, and medication may be more effective when combined with other treatments. Other available treatments offered by pain centers may include:

Injections. Local anesthetics, sometimes combined with a corticosteroid, may be injected around nerve roots or into muscles and joints to relieve irritation, swelling, and muscle spasms.

Nerve blocks. If a group of nerves, called a ganglion or plexus, causes pain to a specific organ or body region, injections with local anesthetics may be useful for blocking the pain in that area.

Physical and aquatic therapy. A physiatrist (doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine) or physical therapist may prescribe a specially tailored exercise program to increase function and decrease pain. Other physical therapy options at pain clinics may include whirlpool therapy, ultrasound, and deep-muscle massage.

Electrical stimulation. The most common form of electrical stimulation used in pain management is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a technique that uses a small, battery-operated device to stimulate nerve fibers through the skin. Other implants for pain control use medicine, heat or chemicals.

Acupuncture. This ancient Chinese practice involves inserting very thin needles at specific points on the skin to relieve pain.

Psychological support and counseling. Although pain is a physical sensation, many people in pain suffer emotionally with feelings of anger, sadness, and hopelessness. Dealing with unrelenting pain can affect your ability to hold a job, maintain a home, meet family obligations, and relate to friends and family members. Psychological support, along with medical treatment, can help you manage your condition.

Relaxation techniques. In addition to counseling, mental health professionals can teach you self-help techniques such as relaxation training or biofeedback to reduce stress and relieve pain.

Surgery. Although sometimes surgery is clearly necessary to relieve a problem that is causing pain, it is often a treatment of last resort. If pain has not responded to any other treatment, surgery on certain nerves may offer relief and allow you to resume normal activities.

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