Chronic pain can be a debilitating problem, and with increasing regulations on narcotic pain relievers, medical professionals are constantly finding new ways to help their patients. Using a holistic approach to chronic-pain management helps both the physical and mental aspects of pain.

Treating the Body

Various medical procedures are being used in lieu of or in conjunction with narcotic pain relievers. Steroid injections are among the most popular methods of reducing or eliminating pain. These injections can be used for various ailments, such as arthritis and nerve pain. Unlike systemic steroids, these steroids have fewer side effects and can directly target pain. In general, the numbing medication used in conjunction with injectable steroids allows immediate relief of pain, with long-term pain relief from the steroids starting a day or two after the injection. Another benefit of steroid injections is that they allow patients to return to work. Many professions place heavy restrictions on the use of narcotics, even if they are prescribed.

Addressing the Emotional Side

Pain psychology is a branch of the mental-health field that deals with the impact of pain on emotional well-being and how a person's emotional state can influence pain. Some people may be offended if they are referred to a psychologist as part of their pain-management treatment because they may be under the impression their doctors are blaming mental-health conditions for their pain.

Although chronic pain is a real, physical problem, it can be exacerbated by emotional problems, which in turn exacerbate chronic pain. This relationship between mental well-being and chronic pain must be addressed in a comprehensive pain-management plan. Having regular sessions with a therapist can help with frustration or resentment about chronic pain. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental-health conditions, trying medications in conjunction with therapy can make dealing with chronic pain a little easier.

Finding Social Interaction

Similar to the psychological aspects of chronic-pain management are the social components. It is imperative to find people who are going through similar problems or at least find people who are empathetic about chronic pain. A major hindrance for people with chronic pain is that they feel misunderstood by friends and family, and in extreme cases, their relationships may dissolve due to the limitations they experience. Finding a social outlet, whether online or in the form of in-person support groups, can be invaluable for people with chronic pain. Not only are you gaining the benefits of interacting with others who will understand if you need to cancel at the last minute or cannot engage in physical activity for long periods or at all, but you may find it harder to focus on the pain when you are in good company.

Rediscovering Your Lost Self

It is easy for important parts of your life or personality to fall by the wayside when you spend a significant amount of time dealing with pain control. Part of a holistic approach to pain management is rekindling lost interests or other activities you may have found fulfilling but have abandoned. Spirituality, art, music, reading, and meditation are among many components that may be important to alleviate depression and help you feel more like you did before chronic pain became an issue. Start by making a plan to spend an hour each week dedicated to an activity that is important to you and that will enrich your life. Even if you can only dedicate a small amount of time and effort, this is something to look forward to each day or week.

Regardless of the medications you use to help chronic pain, a holistic approach to treatment can help you tackle all aspects of pain. Addressing your needs beyond physical pain will improve your quality of life and can make chronic pain less intrusive.