A New Approach to Treating Chronic Pain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 to 40 percent of adults in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain may limit an individual’s ability to walk or move, which interferes with daily activities. Patients become depressed or irritable from living with ongoing discomfort. Many rely on prescription medications that are not without potentially harmful side effects. However, researchers across the country revealed alternative methods to improve the quality of life for pain sufferers.

Encouragement and Guidance

Kurt Kroenke and associates from Indiana University determined to learn how ongoing support affected the well-being of chronic pain patients. An initial study provided patients with daily encouraging text messages designed to boost their emotional and psychological health. They might be reminded to spend time with loved ones. Other messages might offer encouragement despite any mishaps that patients encounter. The study revealed that the patients reported a reduction in pain.

In 2019, another study followed 294 patients as they participated in a web-based module that offered strategies for dealing with pain, information about pain medications and the chance to communicate with health care professionals. Patients were to report their symptoms as part of the program.

Another group of patients was instructed to take part in the same module. However, they were also regularly contacted by a nurse on a weekly basis to discuss their symptoms, adjust medication dosages and offer mental-health recommendations.

Both groups of patients reported an improvement in pain symptoms and emotional health. But, the group benefiting from weekly communication experienced a greater degree of improvement.

Back on TREK

A program developed by the Cleveland Clinic called “Back on TREK” was designed to assist patients with chronic back pain management with the help of mental-health specialists, physical therapists, spinal physicians and other members of the health care team. Patients are relieved to learn that they are not alone. Education and therapy improve mobility while reducing physical pain and emotional issues. Patients are also encouraged to improve their health by adopting a healthier diet and losing weight.

Nontraditional Therapy

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the University of California in San Francisco found that alternative treatments are often beneficial to chronic-pain patients. Practitioners may recommend acupuncture, meditation or yoga as part of the health care regimen. Researchers also investigate possible underlying causes in a method known as Functional Medicine.

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