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To treat pain safely, first you have to understand what it is, where it comes from, and why it hurts. From there, you can figure out which treatment option will work best.

Understand what pain is

There’s more to pain than just the sensations you feel in your body. According to the most recent science, pain has three pieces: physical (what’s happening in your body), emotional (what’s happening in your feelings), and cognitive (what’s happening in your thoughts).

This means that pain is a very individual experience, and the most effective way to relieve it is to engage all three parts of that experience. In the video below, pain specialist Dr. Kevin Cuccaro goes into more detail.

Evaluate treatment risks

Any form of therapy has its risks and benefits. There’s no single “right” or “wrong” option for everyone. Rather, the goal is to build a holistic strategy that works for you.

While we can’t provide a comprehensive list of pros and cons for every treatment out there, we can say that as a general rule, whenever you’re talking about an option with your doctor, you can use the acronym BRAC to help you make an informed decision:

  • What are the Benefits of this treatment or procedure?
  • What are the Risks?
  • What Alternatives could I do instead?
  • What are the Consequences of doing nothing?

Alternative (non-medication) therapies

There are many effective ways to treat persistent pain without relying on prescription medication. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list for you to explore.

Explore a list of alternative therapies »

Prescription medications (opioids)

Opioids do not work for long-term pain. They’re also addictive and dangerous. For a long time, doctors did not know this. If your doctor prescribes an opioid pain medication to you, it’s important to ask why. While opioids can be effective for short-term pain (lasting less than three months) and for some types of cancer pain, if you’re living with a type of pain that lasts more than 90 days, opioids are not right for you.

Learn more about opioids »

Make a plan

Doctor Prescribing
If you’re suffering from persistent pain, the first thing you should do is see a doctor. If you disagree with their diagnosis, go get a second opinion.

Your primary physician may not be able to address the emotional and cognitive elements of your pain with you, but they should be able to refer you to a specialist who can. If your doctor won’t make a referral or isn’t taking you seriously, seek a different doctor.

Once you’ve found a doctor that you trust, discuss alternative pain treatment therapies with them and build an active recovery plan. Look for ways to build a support network — spouse, friends, family, local organizations, or support groups. For info and tips, visit our YouTube channel.

Take charge. It’s your life, and you can take it back.

 

Next: Learn about guidelines for using opioids »