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Gone are the days when taking painkillers was the only way to address acute and unbearable pain. Several techniques have been developed to fight pain caused due to illnesses and injuries. These are effective, safe, and usually involve no risk. Sometimes, these techniques also require the use of pain killers to aid the process of pain management. However, the use of these medications is restricted, so that, the least possible harm is caused to the patient's health.

Pain management techniques can be classified as invasive and non-invasive techniques. These techniques can be used to address joint pain (especially, pain due to arthritis), lower back pain, muscle pain, chronic back pain, neck pain, leg pain, and various other pains. The procedure can be simple or complex, as sometimes, a wide variety of skills and techniques are required to treat the pain.

Invasive Pain Management Procedures
  • Prolotherapy (regenerative injection therapy): A solution is injected into a joint space, ligament, or tendon.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): With the help of local anesthesia and mild sedation, certain nerve pathways are heated. This helps stop transmission of pain signals to the brain. It is used to treat chronic neck/lower back pain or joint pain due to arthritis.
  • Implantable opioid infusion pumps: These pumps are designed to provide a continuous infusion of medication to a specific body site. They are usually used when other therapies fail.
  • Injections: Epidural steroid injections can temporarily relieve lower back pain and leg pain. Therapeutic injections can be divided into three categories, joint injections, soft tissue injections, and nerve block injections. Trigger point injection (TPI) are used to treat muscle pain.
  • Surgical implantation of electrotherapy devices: As the name suggests, they surgically implant pain relieving devices into the body, that act and function within the body. Fibromyalgia whole body pain, systemic pain, is often treated with electrotherapy implanted devices. Implantable spinal cord stimulator (SCS) and peripheral nerve stimulator are examples of devices that are used to lower arm and leg pain. They are less effective for localized spine pain.
  • Anesthesia: This is currently the most popular technique, that is used widely during surgical procedures and childbirth by C-section. Usually, a sedative is administered in addition to the anesthetic.
Non-invasive Pain Management Procedures
Medication
Use of pain medication is a purely pharmacological technique of relieving pain. Pain relievers include antidepressants, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin, narcotic medications, analgesics, and muscle relaxants. These medications are administered under the guidance and supervision of a medical practitioner, since their consumption involves some amount of risk.

Exercise
Exercises are used to manage pain caused due to arthritis, rheumatism, back related disorders, etc. They allow smooth muscle function and should be done under the supervision of an expert to avoid complications. Exercising can also speed up the recovery process. These include aerobic workouts, aqua exercises, physiotherapy, etc.

Physical Therapy
Physical therapy helps lower pain, especially after a surgery. The exercises are designed according to the severity of the symptoms and the type of the condition. Physiotherapy works great for frozen shoulder, as it helps restore a person's range of movement after an injury or illness. It also involves massage, use of infra-red light, etc.

Massage
Massage therapy is an effective technique used to relieve sore muscles, pain induced stress, inflammation, swelling, muscle tension, and fatigue. It also improves blood circulation and boosts immunity.

Hydrotherapy
This technique uses warm water to relieve muscle stiffness and stress. Running water stimulates the muscles, thereby reducing muscle tension and relieving pain.

Psychological Techniques
These include behavioral modification, cognitive therapy, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback. All these procedures are used to stimulate the patient's response to pain. Once the patients learn to implement these techniques, they can practice them on their own, whenever pain is experienced. These techniques are very effective in relieving pain caused due to emotional factors.

Cutaneous Stimulation
These include administering external pain relievers like cold packs and hot packs, that facilitate superficial cooling or heating of skin, and help alleviate pain. A portable, battery-powered device called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) can be attached to your skin, over the area of pain. Mild and safe electrical signals can help lower pain. Acupuncture involves inserting the tips of thin needles at specific points on the skin.

Natural Techniques
The natural techniques can be used to address pain caused due to migraines, stress, menopause, and physical strain. These techniques would include magnetic therapy, chiropractic, aromatherapy, acupressure, homeopathy, Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, tai chi, laughter, music, self-hypnoses, weight loss with the help of a balanced diet, deep breathing, use of braces and supports, etc. Some herbal and home remedies can also relieve pain effectively.

Rest and Sleep
These are the two most important factors of pain management. Adequate rest and sleep help speed up the healing processes. Lack of sleep and rest can also be a cause of pain, and can also increase pain.

The techniques mentioned above work well when implemented in conjunction with one another. They are essential in addressing pain in order to maintain the quality of life.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a physician/nutritionist.