For the more than 50 million Americans who experience chronic pain every day, trying to create a treatment plan can be an exhausting battle. Due to the complex nature and differences in individuals’ pain, it is usually most effect to have an integrated or multidisciplinary treatment plan, which is the use of different methods of treatments together in order to manage/reduce pain.
Although there are a wide range of integrated treatments that exist, multidisciplinary specialists are hard to come by, causing most of the research to fall onto the patient. While it is still important to work closely with your doctor and healthcare team about the best course of treatment, below are some multidisciplinary care options you can consider for treating chronic pain:
Restorative therapies: treatment that focuses on either using or modifying physical movement to reduce pain. This can include massage therapy, pool therapy, strength training, or physical therapy to help strength and flexibility. Occupational therapy can also be used to develop solutions for physical challenges faced daily.
Interventional procedures: surgical procedures performed by a doctor, which can range from minimally invasive outpatient procedures to more invasive treatments performed by a medical team. Common treatments include injections, such as a steroid or anesthetic into the muscles or joints, as well as more invasive operations for implantable neuromodulation devices that use electrical pulses to “drown out” pain signals to the nerves.
Complementary medicine: treatments use in conjunction with conventional Western medicine, such as acupuncture or cupping. While each treatment is different, it is important to note that there are varying levels of scientific evidence to support them.
Medications: among one of the first options for many patients to try, there are different medications to treat pain in different ways. Some medications provide generalized pain relief while others (immunosuppressants for autoimmune disorders) treat specific conditions and some are able to address multiple categories of pain versus ones meant to target one pain type.
If using medication, it is extremely important to work closely with your healthcare team to find the right type and dose of medication that works for you.
Mind-body and behavior health approaches: the connection between mind and body means that when someone experiences stress, anxiety, and depression, it can increase their pain, and that pain can increase their stress, anxiety, and depression. Treatments in this category help you rethink how you see your pain and ways to cope with it in order to help break out of that cycle. This can include counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBP), mindfulness, and psychiatric care.
Self-management: while still something to discuss with your doctor, self-management focuses on changes that you make in your daily life, such as improving sleep habits and implementing stress reduction techniques. Options in this category can require major changes in your day-to-day life or habits, but they can lead to a huge improvement in your overall health.
Visit U.S. Pain Foundation to find out more about chronic pain and treatment options: https://uspainfoundation.org/news/how-multidisciplinary-care-benefits-chronic-pain-patients/.