Chronic Pain Treatment: a Patient's Guide

Chronic pain treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all. Discover treatment plans tailored to your needs and symptoms with Black Horse Health.

How Can Black Horse Health Help You Manage Your Chronic Pain

At Black Horse Health, we know the devastating effects of chronic pain – both mental and physical.
Our team of knowledgeable and compassionate experts have over 100 years of combined experience and are committed to helping you or your loved one lead a life uninhibited by the symptoms of chronic pain.
With holistic wellness services like aqua therapy, chiropractic, stretching, yoga, and cold plunge, we will find the treatment opportunity that best meets your unique set of symptoms.
Learn more about chronic pain, treatment opportunities, and how our Black Horse Health team of specialists can help you heal in this comprehensive article. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more information or to begin your path to wellness today.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than three months. It can stem from various causes like injury, medical conditions, or even unknown reasons. This ongoing discomfort can affect the overall quality of life. However, effective chronic pain treatment options are available.

A recent study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that almost 52 million American adults experience chronic pain. That means about 1 in 5 adults in the US are dealing with this condition on a daily basis.1

Common Conditions and Chronic Pain Treatment Approaches

Living with chronic pain can make everyday tasks a challenge, but knowing more about the condition is the first step to feeling better. In this section, we’ll talk about some common kinds of chronic pain and how they’re typically treated.
These conditions may include:
  • Lower Back Pain: Lower back pain can happen for several reasons, like lifting something heavy or sitting in a bad position. For treatment, doctors often recommend physical therapy to help with posture. They may also prescribe pain medication.
  • Osteoarthritis: This involves the cushioning on the ends of your bones wearing out. Treatments often include medications or injections to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Migraines: Migraines are severe headaches that can last for hours or even days. They often come with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Preventive medications like beta-blockers can help prevent migraines before they start. 
  • Fibromyalgia: This is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tender points on the body. For treatment, you might be given antiseizure drugs that can help manage symptoms. Talking therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help.
  • Neuropathic Pain: This kind of pain comes from damage to the nervous system, often due to diabetes or nerve injury. Treatment might include taking antidepressants or using creams, such as capsaicin cream, that numb the painful area.

What is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain Treatment?

For many, pain is a part of life – however, chronic pain can negatively impact individuals’ mental and physical well-being in various ways. Acute and chronic pain can present with different symptoms.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain usually lasts for more than three months. Chronic pain treatment is often complex, as it can be difficult to know how it started or how to treat it. Treatments can range from medications and creams to other methods, such as physical therapy or acupuncture.

Acute Pain

This type of pain usually starts suddenly and goes away after the cause is treated, such as getting a cut or breaking a bone. Once the injury has healed, the pain generally goes away.
During diagnosis, doctors might ask individuals to rate their pain on a scale and do some tests to ascertain the type of treatment needed.

Why It's Important to Know the Difference Between Chronic Pain and Acute Pain

For acute pain, identifying the cause is usually straightforward, like spotting a broken bone on an X-ray. Chronic pain might require a series of tests and could be related to multiple factors.
Also, acute pain is generally only a short-term disruption. Chronic pain, on the other hand, can change an individual’s lifestyle in the long run. That’s why getting the right treatment for chronic pain is important in order to help improve quality of life.

Exploring Chronic Pain Treatment Options

Chronic pain treatment must be customized for each person’s needs. Some common types of chronic pain treatment include:


Medications can serve as a convenient and often effective first step in treating chronic pain. There are both over-the-counter options and stronger ones that your doctor can prescribe.

Over-the-Counter Choices

These are medications that you can buy without a prescription. They are generally safe when used as directed and include:2
  • Painkillers: Tylenol, also known as acetaminophen, is one of the most common medications to help with pain. 
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs are often the first choice for treating pain that comes from injured body tissue. They are commonly used for conditions like arthritis or long-term back pain.

Prescription Medications

Sometimes, stronger medications are needed. It’s important to be careful with these and only take them as prescribed, as some have a potential for dependence.
These can include:
  • Stronger NSAIDs: These are similar to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs but come in stronger doses for more significant pain relief.
  • Specialized Medications: Stronged medication, such as opioid pain medication, can help with long-term pain.

Physical Therapies

Physical activity can help manage chronic pain by strengthening your body and improving your overall well-being.
Some examples include:
  • Therapeutic Exercise: These are special exercises a physical therapist might guide you through. They’re designed to help you target a specific type of pain.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Even simple activities like walking or swimming can make a difference in managing chronic pain.

Mental Health Strategies

The mind plays a big role in how an individual experiences pain. There are mental health approaches that can help manage or even lessen chronic pain, such as:
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a type of counseling that teaches individuals how to change negative thought patterns that can make their pain worse. People learn better coping skills and ways to mentally manage pain.
  • Mindfulness: This teaches individuals to focus on the present moment, which can help them become more aware of their body and the pain they experience.
  • Relaxation Techniques: These can include deep breathing and meditation to help reduce stress, which can lessen pain.

Risks and Side Effects of Long-Term Chronic Pain Treatment with Medication

Dealing with long-lasting pain often involves taking medicine for relief. However, it’s important to know that using medication for a long time can have risks and side effects.

Common Side Effects of Long-Term Medication Use

When individuals take medicine for a long time to treat chronic pain, they might experience some unwanted side effects.
Here are some of the most common ones:
  • Digestive Issues: Nausea or heartburn can be common with certain types of pain medicine.
  • Sleep Problems: Some medicines might make it hard for individuals to sleep, or they may even cause some individuals  to feel drowsy during the day.
  • Mood Changes: Long-term use of some medicines could affect mood, making individuals feel anxious or depressed.

Managing the Risks

However, there are often ways to help mitigate the side effects. Some avenues to help manage the risks of long-term medication usage include:
  • Consult Your Doctor: Always talk to your healthcare provider about the medication plan. They can help find the right dose of medication, or even adjust the treatment plan as needed.
  • Monitor and Report: Keep track of any side effects and report them to your doctor. This helps in adjusting your medication if needed.
  • Consider Alternative Treatments: Sometimes, you might be able to use other forms of treatment, like physical therapy or psychological help, to lessen the need for medicine.

Safety First

While medication can be a powerful tool in chronic pain treatment, safety should always be the first priority.
This generally includes:3
  • Avoiding Mixing Medications: Some medicines don’t interact well with others. Always check with your doctor before adding a new medication to your routine.
  • Limit Alcohol and Other Substances: Mixing pain medication with alcohol or other substances can pose risks. Additionally, research indicates that alcohol consumption can make you more sensitive to pain. It’s advisable to avoid these combinations for safer treatment.

How Pain and Medical History Influence Chronic Pain Treatment Choices

When tackling long-lasting pain, an individual’s medical history and how they feel pain can shape their treatment plan. It’s imperative for doctors to understand all aspects in order to provide accurate treatment.

The Role of Your Pain Experience

Your pain isn’t like anyone else’s. The type, location, and severity of your pain can point doctors to the most effective treatments and will impact your chronic pain treatment.
Important aspects to keep in mind include:
  • Type of Pain: Knowing the kind of pain helps in choosing the right medication or therapy. Doctors often ask patients if their pain feels like a shooting, stabbing, or throbbing type of pain.
  • Location of Pain: Pain in different areas of the body might be treated differently. For example, back pain may benefit from physical therapy, while joint pain could be better managed with certain medications.
  • Severity of Pain: How bad the pain is can also influence the treatment. Stronger medications might be used for severe pain, while milder pain may be managed with less intense treatments.

Medical History Matters

Your past and current health conditions can greatly impact the available treatment options. Important parts of your medical history include:
  • Previous Treatments: If you’ve tried certain treatments before and they haven’t worked or have caused side effects, your doctor will likely consider other options.
  • Current Health Conditions: If you have other medical issues like diabetes or heart problems, some treatments may not be safe for you.
  • Medications You’re Already Taking: Some medicines don’t work well together. Your current medications will affect what else can be safely prescribed.

Emotional and Psychological Factors

Believe it or not, how a person thinks and feels can also be part of choosing the right treatment for chronic pain.
Certain psychological factors include:
  • Stress Levels: High stress can make pain worse. Therapies that help reduce stress, like psychological treatments, might be recommended.
  • Personal Preferences: If an individual prefers not to take medications, treatments like physical therapy or acupuncture might be considered as alternatives.

Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain Treatment at Black Horse Health

At Black Horse Health, we understand that chronic pain is complex and often doesn’t respond to medication alone. While medication is a frequently used approach, it’s typically not the only solution.4

This is why we offer a range of treatments to give individuals the comprehensive care they deserve. Some treatment options we provide for chronic pain include:

Aqua Therapy

Water-based exercise uses the natural buoyancy of water to make moving easier. This means that it’s easier on your joints, too. This is an excellent option for chronic pain treatment, especially if you prefer low-impact activities that still build strength and flexibility.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on aligning your spine and relieving muscle tension. It’s particularly effective for chronic pain in areas like the back and neck. Proper alignment also leads to better posture, which can further reduce your pain.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation teach you how to use your mind to better manage your pain. Focusing on the present moment makes you more aware of your body and the specific things that might worsen or relieve your pain. These techniques can also help reduce stress, which often contributes to pain.

Yoga and Stretching

Yoga combines physical poses with mental focus, offering dual benefits for treatment. The poses help increase your flexibility and strengthen your muscles. Also, the mental focus promotes a better overall sense of well-being, making it easier to manage pain.
chronic pain treatment

The Importance of Education and Self-Management in Chronic Pain Treatment

Dealing with chronic pain is complex and often requires a multifaceted approach. At Black Horse Health, we firmly believe that education and self-management are crucial to effective chronic pain treatment.

Education Helps Manage Your Pain

Understanding your pain is crucial for effective chronic pain treatment.
At Black Horse Health, we integrate evidence-based methods into your treatment to help you gain better control over your discomfort. This knowledge allows you to better communicate with your healthcare providers and take a more active role in your treatment journey.

How Learning and Taking Charge Make Your Treatment Better

Putting learning and self-care into your treatment plan is something we believe in at Black Horse. No matter what kind of program you’re in with us, we add learning and self-care steps that are just for you. The goal is to help you understand your condition better, make smart choices, and improve how you feel.

Ready to Take Control? Reach Out to Us Today

If you’re ready to take control of your chronic pain treatment, reach out to us at Black Horse Health. With our over 100 years of combined experience and commitment to providing exceptional care, we’re here to help you navigate this journey toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.