Back Pain (slipped disc, herniated disc, etc., sciatica)
Exploring Options for Relieving Chronic Pain
Maybe your knees aren’t what they once were, and a leisurely walk around the block has become a painful ordeal.
Perhaps too much time hunched in front of the computer has left your shoulders an aching mess.
Young or old, you’re in good company. More than 11 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the National Institutes of Health, and are looking for ways to rid themselves of those aches – even if just temporarily – so they can enjoy life without wincing and groaning.
“People can experience chronic pain for a number of reasons,” says Dr. Ronald Shapiro, medical director of Physicians Technology LLC. “They may have had an injury. They may have arthritis. Sometimes just sitting too long at the computer without a break can lead to shoulder problems.”
Although anyone can experience chronic pain, an NIH study showed that women, older people and non-Hispanics were more likely to report pain. Asians were less likely.
Shapiro says there are a number of options patients can turn to for treating pain. Some of those include:
- Pain-relieving medication. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are used by millions of Americans. Those medications do provide relief, although the Centers for Disease Control recently urged physicians to cut down on the amount of opioids they prescribe because of the risk that patients can become addicted to these narcotics, as well as the alarming increased incidence of fatal prescription-medication overdose.
- Physical therapy. A good physical therapist can do wonders for helping to alleviate a patient’s pain and assist them in achieving a more active lifestyle than they might have imagined. The downside is that the cost of those weekly visits can add up.
- Complementary health approaches. The NIH study says that many people turn to such alternative approaches to pain relief as yoga, massage and meditation. The NIH says those may be able to help with managing pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed by prescription drugs and other conventional treatments.
“The opportunity is out there to improve the quality of life for anyone who suffers from chronic pain,” Shapiro says. “A person shouldn’t feel that they just have to endure it. They have options that can make their day-to-day living a lot better.”
Editor’s note: As always, check with your doctor before beginning or changing any treatment or approach for your health.
Dr. Ronald Shapiro is medical director and co-founder of Physicians Technology LLC, and is co-inventor of the Willow Curve (www.willowcurve.com), a “smart” device designed to relieve pain. Shapiro’s early research in evaluating drug-free pain management led to breakthrough advancements joint-pain relief by combining digital thermal kinetic, photonic and laser-like technologies.