The objective of treating chronic pain at the Novus Spine & Pain Center pain clinic in Lakeland, Florida, is to focus on the source of pain and not just mask the symptoms. In addition, the goal is to improve physical function by using non-interventional (non-invasive) pain management treatments when possible. Non-interventional pain management options are an alternative to more aggressive treatments.
There are three primary goals for relieving pain, regardless of the type of treatment:
- Reduce pain symptoms.
- Allow the patient to remain active.
- Maintain the ability to perform daily tasks.
What Is Non-Interventional Pain Management?
Non-interventional pain management focuses on non-invasive pain treatments and procedures. There are two primary types of non-interventional chronic pain management:
- Non-invasive, pharmacological: Pain management therapy using drugs.
- Non-invasive, non-pharmacological: Pain management procedures without oral medication or the need for an injection. Physical therapy is one type of non-invasive, non-drug pain management therapy.
Non-Interventional, Pharmacological Pain Treatment
Doctors often use over-the-counter and prescription pharmacological treatments alone or in combination with other chronic pain treatment options. Some of these medicines include:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin.
- Acetaminophen is in a group of drugs called analgesics (e.g., Tylenol).
- Muscle relaxants not only help treat muscle spasms but can also help with neck and back pain.
- Antidepressants and Antiseizure Medications can often help relieve or reduce nerve pain.
- Corticosteroids are cortisone-like medicines helpful for reducing swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions.
Patients often ask about the use of opioid medications; however, a 2015 study found a lack of evidence of their long-term effectiveness. In addition to numerous scientific and news reports about the use and misuse of opioids for treating chronic pain, in the 2016 CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, the Centers for Disease Control recommended non-opioid therapy as the preferred treatment.
While medication can play an essential role in pain relief, there are effective medication-free, non-interventional pain management techniques.
Non-Interventional, Non-Drug Treatments
You do not always have to take medicine to treat pain. For example, oral medication may not be necessary to feel better, whether it is lower back pain or a throbbing headache. Some of the non-invasive, non-drug pain treatment options include:
- Acupuncture: Unlike an injection, acupuncture is the insertion of a very fine, sterilized needle into the skin at specific points on the body. The procedure helps release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and stimulates nerve and muscle tissue.
- Biofeedback is a relaxation technique using a biofeedback machine to help the patient learn how to relax certain muscles to reduce the body’s response to pain.
- Cold and Heat: Cold packs slow blood flow to help reduce swelling and pain, while hot packs help increase blood flow and nutrients to an area to help reduce pain.
- Chiropractic Treatments: The use of special hands-on techniques by a chiropractor to make minor adjustments to the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, tendons, and joints).
- Deep Breathing/Meditation: Deep breathing and focusing on the breath, ignoring thoughts, and repeating a word or phrase (mantra) can help the body relax. These two techniques can help restore a sense of control over your body and turn down the “fight or flight” response, which can worsen chronic muscle tension and pain.
- Diet: Proper eating helps aid the digestive process, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps manage weight, and improves blood sugar levels. A well-balanced diet is crucial for anyone living with chronic pain.
- Exercise: Physical exertion for increasing strength and flexibility can help restore normal motion and help release natural endorphins (brain chemicals) to help improve mood and help block pain signals. In addition, physical activity can help interrupt the cycle of pain and reduced mobility found in some chronic conditions, like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Massage: Gentle therapeutic massage often helps ease tension, discomfort, and pain by introducing a “competing” sensation to override pain signals. Even a gentle, circular rubbing of the feet, hands, or back can help. You can even massage yourself by applying light, even pressure to your hands, arms, neck, or forehead.
- Shiatsu (Finger Pressure Therapy) is the application of pressure from a massage along energy lines in the body. For example, a shiatsu therapist applies pressure with the fingers, thumbs, and elbows to help relieve pain.
- Music Therapy: Studies have found listening to music can help relieve pain by improving the patient’s mood. Hearing pleasant music triggers the release of dopamine, which is associated with other rewarding and motivating stimuli, such as food.
- Physical and Occupational Therapy: Physical therapy can help relieve pain, while occupational therapy helps patients live with pain, injury, and disability. A physical therapist designs exercises to help preserve or improve strength and mobility. An occupational therapist helps patients learn how to perform daily activities to help avoid aggravating the source of their pain.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) applies low-voltage electric current through electrode patches on the skin near an area of pain. The current helps interrupt pain signals to the brain.
- Yoga and Tai Chi: Both exercise practices combine breath control, meditation, and gentle movements to stretch and strengthen muscles. Studies have found these exercises can help manage the pain from headaches, arthritis, and lingering injuries.
- Support Groups: Meeting with others with chronic pain who understand what you are going through can make you feel less alone. Meeting with a mental health professional allows a patient to learn to control negative thoughts, which can worsen the pain.
There are a variety of benefits to treating chronic pain without medication. Besides not having to remember to take medication, the patient avoids the unpleasant side effects many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause.
Sometimes, the best non-interventional pain management treatment option combines pharmacological and non-medicine therapies. However, successfully treating chronic pain depends on several factors, including the cause and type of pain. Therefore, if non-interventional treatments are unsuccessful, interventional treatments may be an option.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Dr. Torres established Novus Spine & Pain Center in Lakeland, Florida, to provide every patient with the highest quality pain management care. Whether pain results from an injury or another condition, Dr. Torres offers many different treatment options.
Novus Spine & Pain Center utilizes a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies to restore normal function and allow patients to regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates. As our patient, you are our top priority. Our goal is to help you achieve the best possible quality of life.
Our Mission Statement: To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain by providing state-of-the-art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.
Non-Interventional Pain Management Resources
Non-invasive Pain Management Techniques (Spine Health)
Pain Management (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Multimodal Pain Management: A Better Approach To Pain Control (Mayo Clinic)
8 Non-Invasive Pain Relief Techniques That Really Work (Harvard Health Publishing)
11 Tips for Living With Chronic Pain (WebMD)
Ways to Control Pain Outside of Opioids (Family Doctor)
Other Ways to Manage Pain (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
“Where’s the Music?” Using Music Therapy for Pain Management (PubMed)
Non-invasive, Non-pharmacological Treatment for Chronic Pain (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)