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Chronic Pain Relief

10 Best Ways to Beat Chronic Pain

By , Caring.com senior editor
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When your body's in pain, it can be all-encompassing, affecting your work, activities, sleep, mood, and even your relationships. And chronic pain is much more common than most people realize; in a groundbreaking 2011 report, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated that 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. As you know, if you suffer from it, when chronic pain continues for a long time, it can get awfully discouraging. There are solutions out there, though, with new approaches being tested all the time. Here are the top 10 strategies for conquering chronic pain.

Find the Right Expert to Beat Chronic Pain

Why it's important: Chronic pain is among the most difficult problems to treat, because the solutions aren't always clear-cut, and in many cases there isn't one guaranteed fix. A lot of trial and error is necessary to figure out what eases the pain. Managing that process requires doctors to stay on top of the situation, remember what was said and done before, and be receptive when you come back and say, "No, that didn't help." Many people with ongoing problems, such as arthritis, report having to switch doctors two, three, or even more times before finding someone who really "gets it."

What to do: At every appointment, pay attention to whether the doctor is really listening to you, and whether he or she is proactive about ordering tests to find the cause of the problem -- and suggesting physical therapy, medication, or other forms of treatment tailored for you. If the treatment doesn't solve your problem, don't hesitate to go back, and pay even closer attention to how the doctor reacts to your "What next?" questions. It shouldn't be a problem to come in for repeat visits while you and your doctor try to get to the root of your pain and find a solution. If you start getting the feeling that the doctor is shrugging off your concerns, is implying that you've run out of options, or is sending the message that it's "all in your head," it's time to find another doctor.

Tip: You may also need to ask for a referral to a specialist or surgeon. Some medical practices now also provide referrals for acupuncture or osteopathy. If you can afford it, it may be worthwhile to go outside your regular medical network. Some chiropractors, osteopaths, and specialized sports clinics can provide potentially helpful treatments, such as prolotherapy, that may or may not be covered by insurance.