Chronic pain cannot always be treated simply with pain medication or interventions. In some cases, pain medication may cease being effective, and in other cases long-term use of some pain medication comes with other risks.
Multidisciplinary pain management is an approach where several different types of treatment are used together to address the pain and as a result give people greater function and mobility and an improved lifestyle. The reduction of ongoing pain also helps with outlook and mood.
Treatments included in multidisciplinary pain management include conventional medical treatment alongside psychological therapies and physical therapies, generally provided by a team of doctors and allied health professionals.
Apart from medication, including pain relief medication (whether taken orally or injected, such as ketamine infusion and nerve blocks such as cervical medial branch blocks) and surgery, including device implants (including peripheral nerve and spinal cord stimulators), there are a number of other approaches to controlling or reducing pain. These include…
- Cognitive behaviour therapy – sometimes simply referred to by the abbreviation CBT, it involves helping someone to think and feel differently about the pain they have.
- Physical activities – many forms of physical activity, such as stretching, walking or aerobic or strength exercises can help reduce pain; after a long period of inactivity or after an injury, it is important to start with light activity and progress gradually to more rigorous activity.
- Relaxation techniques – such as mediation and yoga.
- Support groups – support groups for a range of conditions can help in understanding what other people are going through and approaches and techniques to pain that work for others.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation – otherwise known as 'TENS', this involves a device that transmits very low levels of electric current through the skin, which relieves localised pain; scientific evidence of its effectiveness is inconclusive, however some people with chronic pain report pain relief where other approaches have failed.