Managing persistent pain

Posted by Mayo Clinic staff
January 22, 2015

Everyone feels pain sometimes, but persistent pain can be frustrating and exhausting. It can interfere with your work, your sleep, your emotional health and your relationships. Not to mention, as the name implies, persistent pain is painful. But there are ways to manage the pain and take control of your life.

Let’s examine some of the facts and falsehoods of persistent pain.

1. The causes of persistent, chronic pain are easy to diagnose.

FALSE. Medical evaluations and tests often cannot pinpoint the exact cause of persistent pain or find a simple cure. Your health care provider should rule out serious underlying health conditions, such as cancer, by performing a physical exam, reviewing your medical history and, in some cases, order medical tests.

2. If your pain can’t be cured, managing it is the best option.

TRUE. Persistent pain can take a huge toll on your life and health. Although it may seem difficult at first, you can make health choices that will help you regain control of your life, despite the pain. Managing stress, learning to relax, physical therapy and maintaining healthy habits such as exercise, good sleep and healthy eating are all ways you can manage persistent pain.

3. Medication is the only answer to treat persistent pain.

FALSE. Medications are only part of the treatment plan for people with persistent pain. When used appropriately, over-the-counter and prescription medications can reduce or control your pain, but they are just one part of a full treatment plan for managing persistent pain. Talk to your health care provider about the medications that are right for your situation.

4. Complementary therapies can help people with persistent pain.

TRUE. Complementary therapies can be very helpful in easing the pain of some patients. Some common examples include acupressure, acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic medicine, massage and dietary and herbal supplements. Talk to your health care provider about some of these alternative options and explore what works best for you.

While persistent pain may seem overwhelming at times, it doesn’t have to rule your life. Although there are often no quick fixes, you can take control by working with your health care provider to create a treatment plan and find pain management strategies that work best for you.

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