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Chronic Pain and Alternative Treatment Options

Millions of Americans suffer from daily chronic pain. Some of the common medical conditions associated with chronic pain include back injury, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), fibromyalgia, neck injury, spinal cord injury, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Chronic pain can be defined as pain that last for 6 months or more and causes a marked diminishment in social and/or occupational activities. Some traditional treatments for chronic pain include physical therapy, oral pain medication, pain patches, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, nerve blocks and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Long term surgical treatment options may include implantation of an intrathecal pump or implantation of a dorsal column stimulator.

Individuals suffering with chronic pain often have difficulty obtaining and/or maintaining employment. They often need assistance with household chores. They may require assistance with daily hygiene and grooming. These individuals may become isolated because they are not able to attend social functions due to the pain. Relationships involving individuals with chronic can be strained due to increased irritability and fatigue. They often have feelings of depression, hopelessness, guilt, anxiety and shame related to their inability to function independently and contribute to their household as they may have once done. Pain medications, although often a necessary component of treatment, can have negative side effects such as stomach upset and fatigue. Pain medications can also impair an individual's memory, attention and other thinking skills. These factors can compound the overall medical condition and lead to despair.

Alternative treatments such as educating an individual about the mind body connection, training an individual to perform guided and self relaxation techniques or hypnosis and utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy to set measurable and realistic goals can significantly reduce chronic pain and the related negative emotions. These treatments often have little to no reported negative side effects and the benefit is often reported to be experienced immediately. Online, face to face and/or e-mail counseling can aid an individual in learning how to listen to their body and respond in a manner that promotes a release of negativity. Connecting with a psychotherapist trained in the treatment of chronic pain is an essential part of any pain management plan.

About the Author:

Cynthia Kindgren MS/LCPC, CHT, is certified by the national board for certified counselors and is a certified hypnotherapist. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois. She is also a member of the American Counseling Association, International Society For Mental Health Online, lllinois Counseling Association, and the Illinois Mental Health Association.

She assists individuals and their families in dealing with adjustment issues related to brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and numerous forms of chronic pain. For additional information, visit her Web site at

Page last reviewed by on February 1, 2014