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What can you do to manage pain?

Your quality of life could significantly improve by finding the right treatment for pain.

The different types of pain

There are a number of different types of pain and even more reason for why they occur. These include nerve pain, which can be caused by surgery or a disease such as shingles.

Pain can also be categorised by the area in which it occurs, such as the lower back, the neck (including whiplash), the legs (sciatica) and the face. Joint pain is common and can be prevent you from doing the things you love. Headaches are another common example of pain commonly experienced by patients.

Ways to treat pain

The methods of pain management are varied2, and range from over the counter and prescription medication, to nerve blockers, alternative therapies and mind/body techniques. Quite often a combination of treatments will be used to bring about the best results. We have listed a non-exhaustive selection of the most common, below.

Drug therapy

Milder forms of pain can often be treated by non-prescription drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol. Creams and sprays that are directly applied on the skin can also be used to relieve inflammation and discomfort from inflamed muscles and joints caused by conditions such as arthritis or sports injuries.

For more severe pain, stronger prescription medication may be offered to you. These include muscle relaxants, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. A short course of stronger painkillers such as codeine may also provide an effective solution to relieving pain.

Your doctor will always check the medication you are already on in order to recommend the best option for pain management.

Nerve blockers and steroid injections

More interventional procedures can be recommended by your doctor in certain cases. These include joint injections and nerve blockers, some of which can provide short-term relief of up to three months, or longer-term pain relief. You’ll typically be required to stay in the hospital for two to four hours for this treatment.

Alternative and mind-body therapies

Many people have found alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage and chiropractic techniques, highly successful in alleviating pain. Mind-body therapies include relaxation, meditation and hypnotherapy to help patients manage pain.

Dietary approaches and exercise

Some pain sufferers have found that managing their diet has helped to ease symptoms. For instance, there are a range of anti-inflammatory foods1, such as almonds and tuna which may relieve pain caused by swelling and inflammation. One study showed that a low-fat vegetarian diet helped the duration and level of pain in women suffering from premenstrual discomfort.

Exercise can also result in reducing long-term pain by strengthening muscle tone and improving flexibility. It also releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. Sufferers of osteoarthritis have also noticed a reduction in pain after losing weight through a combination of diet and exercise .

Make sure to speak to your health professional about which exercise or sport and diet may be suitable for you in order to avoid exacerbating any existing medical issues. Pain management physiotherapy is an option for those who think that ongoing pain could be minimised by adopting new ways of moving after injury.