For the average person, pain is unpleasant but can be relied upon to go away once the cause is eliminated. For those with chronic pain, however, things are a little different. Chronic pain sufferers feel pain every day, for weeks, months and even years putting a serious strain on their mental health and stopping them from living normal lives. Chronic pain can begin as a result of an injury or health condition but for some people, it can arise without any known cause at all. When it comes to treating chronic pain most physicians start with pain-relieving medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants, and muscle relaxants, but aside from these more common treatments, there are a few other more surprising treatments arising.
- Laser therapy
Believe it or not the light energy from a low-level laser has been found to reduce pain and inflammation for chronic pain sufferers whilst helping to heal damaged tissue, relax sore muscles and stimulate nerve regeneration. The laser works to relieve pain by decreasing the amount of pain-causing chemicals in the area whilst also causing a release of endorphins and enkephalins which block pain receptors. Most patients of low-level laser therapy report feeling noticeable improvements in their pain within just a few visits – click here to find out how laser foot therapy can get you on your feet faster!
- Interruption of the sympathetic nerve
The sympathetic nerve chain is a line of nerves that have been found to be responsible for chronic pain in many people. For chronic pain sufferers who have tried everything else and are still looking for relief from their pain then there’s the option to undergo surgery to purposefully damage the sympathetic nerve. This operation is seen as quite controversial as it will also interrupt the other natural biological responses for which the nerve is responsible for, including the person’s ability to sweat, blush and react to cold temperatures. Despite its risks, for those experiencing chronic pain, it is still seen as a more favorable option.
- Freezing the nerves
Another way to stop pesky nerves from reporting pain is to freeze them in a process called cryoneurolysis. During cryoneurolysis a small probe that has been cooled to a freezing temperature below minus 10 degrees Celsius is applied to the pain-causing nerve causing it to freeze and burn. The burning of the nerve disrupts it from sending signals thus relieving the patient’s pain. Studies have found that most participants experience improvements in their pain levels post cryoneurolysis treatment scoring their pain much lower on the scale. It takes the nerves 8 weeks to regenerate following their treatment at which point they can then be frozen again to provide additional relief.
- Taking antibiotics
For those suffering from chronic back pain, there’s a chance that their pain could be as a result of a bacterial infection from the same bacteria that cause facial acne. In these cases, a simple course of antibiotics can kill the bacterial infection relieving the sufferer of their painful symptoms. Now that the link between back pain and bacteria has been established, scientists are hopeful that more chronic back pain sufferers will be able to access a test and be given a chance to cure their pain.
- Brain stimulation
Deep brain stimulation involves electrodes being implanted directly onto the parts of the brain that are responsible for processing pain. These electrodes are then connected to a pacemaker that sits in the person’s chest. This pacemaker will then send electric signals to the electrodes via a small wire producing stimulation. The pacemakers used can be individually programmed to meet each patient’s unique needs, therefore, calibrating the amount of stimulation fed to the brain. Deep brain stimulation is a very invasive procedure that is often not covered by insurance and so is often not recommended unless a patient has exhausted all other options.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of talking therapy and can help sufferers of chronic pain to self-manage their symptoms and reduce the amount of medication they need to take. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the way each individual thinks about their pain, looking at their thoughts, emotions, and responses and finding ways to rewrite them to produce more optimistic outcomes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often combined with other treatment options such as pain-relieving medication or physical therapy but can help sufferers to have a more positive outlook on their pain whilst also introducing them to other people who suffer from chronic pain which can help a sufferer to feel less alone with their condition.