The Smart Patient's Guide to
Chronic Pain Management

Introduction to the Smart Patient's Guide to Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain is something that 100 million people1 grapple with every day. Pain can be acute (a predictable, short-term response to trauma, injury or surgery) or chronic, which is defined as pain that persists beyond normal healing time, typically 3 months. For many, chronic pain is a complicated problem with a complicated treatment story.

Medication has long been an effective way for people with chronic pain to get relief. Careful, opioid-assisted treatment can give some the ability to get out of bed and complete daily tasks, connect with others, function at work and at home and enjoy some quality in their lives.

But as Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the pain management division at Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab at Stanford University explains "opioids are just one tool in the toolbox." Basically, there are 6 broad categories for treating pain, Dr. Mackey says:

  1. Medications (opioids and non-opioids)
  2. Interventional Procedures (nerve blocks, injections, etc.)
  3. Rehabilitative and Occupational Therapy
  4. Pain Psychology
  5. Complementary Alternative Medicine (acupuncture)
  6. Self-management (diet and exercise)

While opioids, when used responsibly, can be an effective way to treat chronic, intractable pain, today's opioid epidemic has called attention to the downside of these powerful medications. The countless, tragic stories of death associated with opioids have raised concerns about the use of opioid pain medications for patients with chronic pain.

In an effort to combat this crisis—one that purportedly claims 142 lives in America every day, according to the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis2 —the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published opioid prescribing guidelines3 in the spring of 2016. The guidelines have had a profound, and sometimes chilling, effect on the physicians who prescribe opioids as well as the pain patients who have been helped by them.

Many factors, including the lingering uncertainty over the CDC recommendations and the future of health insurance, have contributed to anxiety on all sides of the issue leaving many legitimate pain patients struggling to receive the medication they need to function on a daily basis.

To help you navigate this challenging terrain—and find the pain relief you seek—PPM has put together a special section of articles full of advice, insight, and, inspiration. Check out this slideshow of tips from our own pain management experts and click on the links to the left to access all the information you need.

Find out how much you really know about chronic pain! Take our Chronic Pain Quiz
Updated on: 10/03/17
Continue Reading:
I’m #NotAnAddict: The CDC Guidelines and You
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