At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Several factors may determine the best course of treatment for severe chronic pain. Many times, doctors will recommend a variety of therapeutic methods to be administered concurrently. Deep tissue massage, physical therapy, medication, biofeedback, nerve blocks or other remedies may be suggested. A pain management specialist usually evaluates and oversees a patient's progress and makes adjustments as needed. Since each person may respond differently to various remedies, an open line of communication with medical professionals is essential for achieving effective pain management.
Depending on a patient's diagnosis, treatment plans may vary. What works for one person may not be effective for another. For example, patients with widespread muscle pain, such as occurs with fibromyalgia, may undergo a different type of therapeutic regimen than someone who is diagnosed with chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or other nerve disorders.
For treatment of severe chronic pain, a specialist in pain management may combine various types of medication to relieve discomfort. Treatments may include narcotic pain medicine, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory medication, sleeping pills or other forms of drug treatment. Any time medicines are prescribed, doctors usually monitor a patient closely to ensure that he is benefiting from them and that he is receiving adequate relief at a dosing regimen that is safe.
In addition to pain medication, physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises are also frequently recommended. Such regimens are often customized to target and relieve the source of severe chronic pain. Regimens may include hydrotherapy, stretching exercises or other activities to aid in healing.
Therapeutic massage may also prove helpful in many cases. This is especially true when severe chronic pain affects muscles and joints. Trigger point therapy or deep tissue massage, for example, can help reduce inflammation and tenderness. Coupled with the right type of exercise, discomfort may be significantly reduced over time.
Certain conditions are not as responsive to less invasive forms of therapy. In extreme cases of severe chronic pain, surgical intervention may be recommended to relieve discomfort. Doctors will usually suggest major surgery as a last resort when other treatment options fail to provide adequate relief. Certain conditions, however, may indicate the need for minor surgical procedures for temporary or permanent alleviation of discomfort.
Nerve blocks, for example, are sometimes recommended to reduce extreme discomfort. During this procedure, the surgeon inserts an anesthetic into or near a specific nerve to numb it. This blocks pain signals and offers temporary relief, which may last from several weeks to a few months. In some cases, permanent deadening of a nerve can cure severe chronic pain altogether, though that type of procedure is not always a patient's best option.