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Dealing With Chronic Pain

By Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, MDs

Chronic pain affects more than 50 million Americans. For some people, pain may resonate as more emotional than physical. For others, it overwhelms the body, but they battle it with their mind.

Researchers found that back, hip, knee, and foot pain were the most common troublemakers. Injury, osteoarthritis, obesity, muscle and ligament strains and sprains, tendinitis, bursitis, pinched nerves, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and tissue tears (such as to the meniscus) are common causes.

Some management techniques involve changing your reaction to pain, which is especially useful when there is no treatment or therapy that will make it go away entirely. One study in the journal Pain found that hypnosis, cognitive therapy, hypnotic cognitive therapy, and pain education all make a significant difference.

Researchers gave volunteers with chronic pain four sessions of those treatments and found that all forms had a medium-to-large impact on pain intensity — and the improvements lasted through 12 months of follow-up.

The Cleveland Clinic says meditation, tai chi, biofeedback, Reiki, aromatherapy, and other stress-reduction techniques also can help lessen the impact of chronic pain on your life. For conditions like fibromyalgia, exercise, good quality sleep, and a diet free of simple sugars, added syrups, simple carbs, red and processed meats, egg yolks, and cheese, along with stress-relief techniques, can help.

Medical treatments for chronic pain include physical, occupational, and massage therapy; acupuncture; TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation); topical creams containing capsaicin, cortisone, or NSAIDs; and nerve blocks. Sometimes, cortisone shots are helpful. And surgery can be a positive solution for joint pain and other injuries.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can ease discomfort, as can prescription NSAIDs, and there are times when opioids are needed. But always combine medications and surgery with aggressive, self-directed solutions that relieve stress and upgrade your lifestyle habits.