Remember your gruff high school coach's advice for treating an injury?
"Just walk it off."
Turns out your coach should have been sidelined for making a bad call,
because while this strategy might have worked for the odd skinned knee, it's
downright dangerous for serious pain. Still, a staggering one in 10 Americans
reports that he or she has had regular pain for more than a year. Pain is the
No. 1 cause of disability in the United States. So why can't we find
Experts say that some...
Sometimes a medicine loses some or all of its ability to work
when it is used daily over a long period of time. This is because your body develops a
tolerance to it. If this happens, you may need to take more of the medicine, change medicines, or add another medicine. Your doctor can work with you to do this.
Pills for pain
You will likely start with medicines that cause the fewest
side effects (such as
acetaminophen). The dose will be
increased or the medicines will be changed as needed. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
A variety of creams, gels, sprays, and patches may be used to relieve chronic pain, including:
Topical analgesics. These are pain relievers that are applied directly to
the skin, such as EMLA cream or a lidocaine patch
(Lidoderm). Some creams or gels can be made at the pharmacy according to your doctor's directions. Some may contain capsaicin, a naturally occurring
substance found in chili peppers.
Cooling spray. This involves using a cooling
spray (such as Biofreeze) directly on the skin. This may be repeated several
Injected medicines—shots—may be used to treat chronic pain, including:
injections (injecting steroids around the spine). Although these injections
have been used for many years and may provide relief for
low back or neck pain caused by disc disease or
pinched nerves, they may not work for everyone.
Joint block injections. A corticosteroid is injected into the painful joint or joints.
Nerve blockNerve block injections. An anesthetic
is injected into the affected nerve to relieve pain. The anesthetic may relieve
pain for several days, but the pain often returns. Although nerve blocks do not
normally cure chronic pain, they may allow you to begin physical therapy and
range of motion.
injections. These may relieve pain by injecting a local anesthetic into trigger
points (or specific tender areas) linked to chronic myofascial pain or
fibromyalgia. These injections do not relieve chronic pain