No matter how you treat chronic rain, it pays to match the type of pain to the remedy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for instance, in which you learn ways to control your response to pain, is effective for many people. For others, the answer may be biofeedback, relaxation, meditation or plain, old distraction. For many people, exercise helps with the de-conditioning that accompanies chronic pain. Acupuncture may help, too, says the National Institutes of Health.
Some researchers, among them Dr. Paul White, an anesthesiologist at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas, now use acupuncture needles plus electrical stimulation (a technique called PENS, for percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to treat back pain. A similar technique, called TENS, sends electrical signals through the skin without needles.
Some people also swear by magnet therapy. In one small study at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, researchers found that attaching a magnet to muscles or joints provided relief to some pest-polio patients. Other data suggest magnet therapy may help people with nerve damage from diabetes.
Overall, however, there's "little scientific evidence that magnet therapy works," says Jim Livingston, an MIT physicist who studies magnets.
Whatever your particular type of chronic
pain, the real key, pain specialists say, is
to be assertive: Don't allow your primary
physician to focus solely on the underlying
disease. Insist on addressing the pain, too.
If your regular physician can't help, see a
pain specialist, often an anesthesiologist,
neurologist or psychologist. Or, go to a
special pain clinic, now in many hospitals.
And don't avoid psychological treatments. If
something like cognitive-behavioral therapy
helps, it doesn't mean your pain was all in
your head -- it means you've learned how to
cope with the pain better.
For more information on chronic pain on the Web:
~· American Pain Society (www.ampainsec.org)
~· American Academy of Pain Medicine (www.painmed.org) · American Academy of Pain Management (aapainmanage.org)
~· American Society of Anesthesiologists (www.asahq) · International Association for the Study of Pain www.halcyen.com/ iasp)
~· Chronic Pain Forum (come.to/ painsupport) · American Chronic Pain Association (theacpa.org)
~· National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain (www.paincare.org)
~ After April 1: American Pain Foundation (www.painfoundation.org)