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Chronic pain treatment

19 min. reading time

There are many types of treatments for chronic pain. Many of these treatments require medication or surgery. But there are also treatments that focus on reducing pain by exercising the brain without medication. In this article, we'll focus on the different methods that are available and how to know which treatment for chronic pain is best for you.

Can chronic pain be treated?

Fortunately, chronic pain can be treated. Medical science has been researching treatments for chronic pain for many years. To know how chronic pain treatment works, it's good to understand how pain develops.

Contrary to what many people think, pain originates in the brain. Your brain creates pain when it thinks you are in danger. When it does, your brain takes action, and it takes action very quickly. It looks at what is happening in your body, but also considers your feelings and thoughts about the pain. The brain also weighs where your attention is and what you are doing. Medical professionals often call this the biopsychosocial model, in which the body (biology), mind (psychology) and your environment (social) all play a role in chronic pain.

Consequently, this model makes chronic pain more difficult to treat than, say, a broken leg. A broken leg is primarily a biological problem. Chronic pain has such an impact on your life, feelings and thoughts that a simple approach often doesn't work.

We refer to chronic pain when there is continuous or recurring pain that lasts longer than a regular healing period. Typically, an average healing period for an illness, injury or pain lasts longer than three to six months.

The good news is that there are increasingly better treatment programs that address the biological, psychological and social factors of chronic pain. 

chronic pain treatment

What are the treatments for chronic pain?

Biological treatments for chronic pain are often referred to as medical or drug treatments. These usually involve taking medications, but also include surgery and injections such as nerve blocks.

All medical treatments that focus on pain reduction often measure the value given to pain. The biggest drawback to most medical treatments is the side effects. Pain medications, in particular, are known to negatively affect attention, concentration, and your emotions. Accordingly, many alternative treatments for chronic pain focus more on biology, such as CBD oil or acupuncture.

There are also many options in the area of psychological pain treatments. These are usually treatments with a psychologist, but many physical therapists also focus on pain and psychology. Treatments that focus more on the psychological side of pain often aim to help people understand pain better, feel better about themselves, and perform better in life. In addition, there are psychological strategies that teach you how to train your brain to directly affect how you feel about pain. Pain education, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and mindfulness are common treatments used for pain.

At Reducept, we focus on offering this knowledge digitally as part of brain training. Digital or online training is also referred to as e-health. E-health is a collective term for digital healthcare applications that support or improve your health as a patient. These digital applications can be actively used by clients, patients, athletes and students. 

Another type of treatment that focuses on the social side is often aimed at returning to work, expanding life activities, and improving social contacts. Sometimes this is part of a work program, or you are in contact with a social worker. For example, psychologists are often also partially involved in setting up activities that can also improve your social contacts.

Finally, treatments that combine several of these components are also used to address chronic pain. For example, there is specialized medical rehabilitation treatment, where you are cared for in a rehabilitation center by professionals with different backgrounds. You have a doctor, a physical therapist and a psychologist who treat you together in one of the treatment sessions. This is also called multidisciplinary treatment. These are intensive treatments where you are in treatment several days a week or even stay overnight in a rehabilitation center for a while.

chronic pain treatment

Which treatment for chronic pain is right for you?

In most cases, your primary care physician will provide a referral to whoever he or she feels is best suited for your problems. If you are suffering from pain for the first time, a specialist will often see you in the hospital. They will try to determine if there is a condition that can properly explain the pain. This could be rheumatoid arthritis or MS, for example. 

If there is an underlying condition for the pain, it will be treated. Sometimes a specialist at the hospital will refer the patient to a physical therapist, a psychologist, or even a rehabilitation center if the symptoms are severe.
It is not always possible to find a cause for the pain or to make a specific diagnosis. Therefore, broader diagnoses are sometimes made, such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome. With these diagnoses, it is very difficult to choose an appropriate treatment. However, in most cases, it can be helpful to work on improving your health and the underlying condition with the guidance of a physical therapist. Just with your body.  
Alternatively, you can talk to a psychologist about living with pain. New digital treatments like Reducept also bring hope to these patients because they train the brain where the pain originates. In many cases, patients manage to live with the pain. Most patients even manage to reduce the pain.

In the case of chronic pain, there are several health centers for pain management available to you in the Netherlands, often located in a hospital and in the departments there. In these facilities and departments, you will often be medically examined to see if the pain can be reduced or at least made more bearable.

Which treatment is best for your situation depends on your preferences. Especially if there is no quick fix for the pain, it's hard to decide how to proceed. However, if you find yourself in this situation, it turns out that it can be rewarding to learn more about how pain works and find ways to influence and manage the pain yourself. That's exactly what we focus on at Reducept. You deserve a life with less pain.

The future of chronic pain management

In our opinion, the future of chronic pain treatments lies in training the brain. After years of medical research, we know that the brain plays an important role in the development and maintenance of pain. Whether you have pain in your back or in your legs, ultimately all pain originates in the brain. Through Reducept training, you are training the source of the problem, acquiring skills that you can use for the rest of your life. Without the side effects we know from medications.

Chronic pain treatment