The Basics of Pain Management for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Disorders

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has emerged as one of the promising therapies for spinal pain currently available. Limited access to precise, well-controlled, evidence-based primary care; Limited access to specialized, evidence-based complementary and alternative therapies for acute and chronic spinal pain; limited access to experienced therapists; and difficulty in coordinating different therapies for different patients. A few providers are trained in more than one technique; and some have a mixed skill base.

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Most people suffering from back pain choose to try one or more “quick fix” therapies for back pain, such as physical therapy, hot and cold packs, traction, or ultrasound treatment. While some therapies for spinal pain can be helpful, patients must know which therapies are effective and which are not, before trying them. Sometimes, patients cannot tell at first if they are getting help for their back pain from a good CAM. This is why it is important for patients to ask their healthcare provider about the therapies for spinal pain they plan to use, and how they will be administered.

For patients who do not want to try additional therapies for spinal pain-related health care, there are several self-care options available. These include regular exercise and stretching; swimming or spa therapy; yoga; and meditation. Exercise can increase mobility and improve posture, while stretching helps release tension, strengthens muscles and tendons, and improves flexibility. Swimming, yoga, and spa sessions are very relaxing and may further promote healing. Similarly, deep breathing exercises are soothing and can be done anytime.

Spinal pain-related disorders have been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and other related problems, so it is important for patients to maintain positive psychological states. This means avoiding negative thoughts and learning to manage these emotions. In some cases, patients may find relief through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches them how to identify negative thoughts and how to control their thoughts, replacing them with realistic positive thinking. CBT can also help patients deal with stressful situations, such as public speaking, by helping them recognize their emotional response to the situation, which allows them to respond appropriately.

Unfortunately, chronic pain disorders may lead to increased tissue damage. For this reason, physical therapists often recommend low level laser therapies for patients with severe discomfort. These can reduce inflammation and swelling and improve function and range of motion. While the results of laser therapies for spinal pain are not immediately apparent, once enough tissue damage has been repaired, the patient usually returns to normal activities without further difficulties. This process may take several months, or it may occur immediately.

Spinal pain disorders can negatively impact the quality of life and daily functioning of patients. For this reason, a multidisciplinary team approach is often used in the treatment of these painful syndromes. Patients can benefit from a combination of conservative care, physical therapy, and opioids to decrease discomfort and improve function. If conservative treatments do not alleviate symptoms, additional pharmacological therapies for opioid agonists and cognitive dysfunction may provide additional pain relief and improve overall health. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of chronic pain, speak with your physician today.