Dr. M.J. Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Chronic Pain: How to Get Relief

What is chronic pain?

There are 2 types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain doesn't last long and usually goes away as your body heals. Chronic pain lasts for a long time (at least 6 months) after your body has healed. Sometimes, when people have chronic pain they don't know what is causing it. Along with discomfort, chronic pain can cause low self-esteem, depression and anger, and it can interfere with your daily activities.

How is chronic pain treated?

Treatment of chronic pain usually involves medicines and therapy. Medicines used for chronic pain include pain relievers, antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Different types of medicines help people with different types of pain. Usually you use long-acting medicines for constant pain. Short-acting medicines are used for pain that comes and goes.

Several types of therapy can help ease your pain. Physical therapy (such as stretching and strengthening activities) and low-impact exercise (such as walking, swimming or biking) can help reduce the pain. Not doing physical activity or trying to do too much can hurt chronic pain patients. Occupational therapy teaches you how to pace yourself and how to do ordinary tasks differently so you won't hurt yourself. Behavioral therapy can reduce your pain through methods that help you relax (such as meditation and yoga). It can also help get rid of stress.

Lifestyle changes are also an important part of treatment for chronic pain. Getting regular sleep at night and not taking daytime naps should help. Stopping smoking helps too, because the nicotine in cigarettes can make some medicines less effective. Smokers also have more pain than nonsmokers.

Most pain treatments will not take away all of your pain. Instead, treatment should reduce how much pain you have and how often it occurs. Talk to your doctor to learn how to best control your pain.

What should I tell my doctor about my pain?

Telling your doctor about your pain will help him or her find the right treatment for you. Tell your doctor where, how bad the pain is and how often your pain occurs. Also, talk about what makes the pain better or worse.

Your doctor may review other health problems (such as arthritis, breathing problems and heart conditions) you may have because these may keep you from doing some types of therapy. Your doctor may also ask if you have had any problems with sleep, mood or anxiety.


American Chronic Pain Association, Inc. : Internet address: www.theacpa.org
Pain Foundation: www.painfoundation.org
American Pain Society : www.ampainsoc.org
American Council for Headache Education: www.achenet.org