Pain is probably just a little bit older than medicine itself.
Physicians throughout history have been challenged to relieve pain with some success and many failures. Ancient cultures used magical rituals, charms, and special potions to treat pain. In ancient Egypt, live electric eels were placed on wounds to ease pain. The Inca Indians in South America sometimes drilled holes in the skull to release pain. And in more recent times, physicians sometimes used leeches to help treat pain.
Today these “therapies” sound barbaric. Yet modern medicine still does not know all there is to know about pain.
About 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, and about 33 million of these people have had that pain for more than five years. And, unfortunately, many people believe that pain is simply a part of life, one that is a normal part of aging.
I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Pain can be managed. Even people living with severe pain or pain that they’ve had for a long time can get relief.
Before we look at specific strategies for controlling and managing pain, though, I want to emphasize three points:
- Pain relief must be both safe and effective. You should use a therapy only when its benefits clearly outweigh its risks to you. Effectiveness without safety is dangerous!
- Because pain affects the whole person, pain relief programs must treat the whole person. This means that your program must be multi-modal—that is, it will require more than just one pill or remedy.Pain relief often requires many changes in how you live, what you eat, and even how you think.
- You must educate yourself, as much as possible, about your condition—the type of painyou have, how pain signals flow through the body, and potential treatments. Don’t rely solely on your doctors for guidance, particularly when it comes to natural and complementary therapies. You are your own best advocate.
Now choose where you’d like to begin learning more about how to control and manage pain:
- Types of pain
- How to build a treatment plan for managing pain
- How to control your pain level by disrupting pain signals to the brain
- How to control your pain through your diet
- 10 steps to living well with pain
- How to talk to your doctor about pain
- 21 questions to ask your physician about pain