Traditional Medicine


Traditional medicine is an important component of the treatment of chronic pain. You have probably already had experience with various traditional medical treatments such as rest, mild pain relievers, stretching and range-of-motion exercises, physical therapy and heat and ice or perhaps a brace. In addition, you may have used prescribed pain medications, all with the goal of breaking the pain cycle. For the purpose of this website, the term traditional medical choice refers to medications, invasive procedures or treatment from your physician.

Prescription Medications

When used properly, prescription medications reduce pain for a majority of people. You will need to determine which medication works best for you. Naturally there will be different treatment approaches depending on the cause of pain. These medications often are more efficient when taken regularly to prevent pain as opposed to taking them when your pain is severe. Such medications may allow a person to resume their lifestyle prior to pain. Use all medications as directed.

These medications can be categorized in three groups: Non opiod analgesics, opiod analgesics and adjuvant analgesics.

  • Non opiod analgesics  Medication that does not contain an opiod and may be available over-the-counter. Examples include Tylenol, Advil, Aleve and Motrin.

  • Opiod analgesics  Strong pain relieving medication that is not derived from opium, including drugs such as codeine and morphine that require a prescription. Common side effects of opiod therapy include nausea and vomiting, hives, somnolence and constipation. In addition, opiod therapy has the potential for abuse.

  • Adjunctive analgesics  Drugs not primarily intended for pain relief but may relieve pain in some circumstances. These drugs include antidepressants and anticonvulsants. 

Other Traditional Choices

  • Physical therapy  Includes many different modalities including exercise, traction, heat and cold therapy, deep heat ultrasound, stretches and electric stimulation

  • Psychiatric  Psychiatric approach to pain may include talk therapy which may be accompanied by medication such as antidepressants

  • Integrative Medicine: Medical care that combines traditional scientific medicine with complementary and alternative therapies

  • TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)  Device providing gentle electric current applied through electrodes put on the surface of the skin. Electrodes may also be implanted along affected nerves or in space surrounding the spinal cord.

Non-Prescription Choices

  • Analgesic and supplements  Medication designed to prevent or relieve pain

  • Megavitamins: Large quantities of vitamins taken on a regular basis 

Invasive Techniques

  • Neurotomy   Surgical division of a nerve

  • Implanted spinal pump  Permanent pump that directly delivers medication to the spinal cord

  • Nerve block  Procedure in which an anesthetic agent is injected directly near a nerve to numb the area and help alleviate pain

  • Trigger point injections  Injection of steroid and marcaine anesthesia into muscle that contains trigger point for temporary relief of pain

  • Epidural steroid injections  Injection of local anesthetic and steroid into the epidural space located in the spine to provide pain relief by reducing the inflammation of the nerve roots as they exit the spine

  • Corticosteroid injections  Cortisone injection used to reduce inflammation

  • Spinal stimulation  Pulsed electrical signals sent through a device to the spinal cord to control chronic pain

  • Radial frequency ablation  Electrical current from a radio wave used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, decreasing pain signals from that specific area

  • Surgery  Treatment of disease through surgical operation

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