One study in a community clinic found more than one in three adult appointments involved patients with chronic pain. Treating chronic pain can be frustrating for patients and physicians for several reasons:
- Causes can be difficult to pin down — is it muscle, nerves, bones?
- Depression often complicates chronic pain.
- Drug treatments have all-too-common side effects — ulcers, liver or kidney damage, drowsiness, depression, and/or addiction.
- Patients have trouble following exercise and relaxation techniques.
- Chronic pain patients often see multiple doctors.
- Half of all chronic pain patients take more than one year to get their pain under control.
What can you do to control chronic pain?
- Seek treatment.
- Ask your doctor about the most likely cause of your pain.
- Ask about treatment alternatives, their benefits and risks.
- Ask if you should also be treated for depression.
- Follow through on your treatment(s), and return if they don’t work or cause problems.
- If you become discouraged after multiple treatments, ask your doctor about referral to a pain specialist. Chronic pain can be frustrating, but it can also be controlled with persistence and a partnership with your doctor.