There are numerous treatments available for people with pain. One of the most difficult experiences is finding the right treatment, or practitioner, who can help you further.
The following two questions can help you make a decision about the treatment that can work for you. Because it can be difficult and confusing to choose the right treatment, these questions can serve as a starting point. This does not mean that you will immediately find the treatment that will (already) solve your problems, but it does mean that you will increase the chance that you can structurally improve your pain problem!
Question 1: What evidence is there that this treatment works?
If you choose a treatment, you naturally want a treatment that has proven itself for (your type of) pain symptoms. You can do this in different ways, for example by looking for information on the websites of patient associations, such as Pain patients to one voice (Dutch) - where you can also find the standard of care for chronic pain.
If you ask a practitioner directly for evidence of the treatment, be vigilant about treatments 'that work for everyone' or with which the practitioner 'only measures positive effects'. It is often the case that if a treatment is not reimbursed, there is not (yet) enough evidence for the effect of the treatment. This does not mean that another treatment cannot work, but that it pays to look closely at the evidence that there is.
Question 2: Do I have to change anything for my problem, or does the treatment solve it?
When you choose a treatment, you hope that the treatment solves your pain problem quickly. If you don't have to do much yourself, that's the easiest thing to do! If such a quick solution to your problem is possible, a doctor will make an estimate of whether to carry out this treatment. Think especially of operations or certain injections that can solve some pain problems. Unfortunately, it often happens that a pain problem does not have a quick solution, or that it only works partially or temporarily.
When all the treatments that should 'solve' the problem has already been done and you are still in pain, it is possible that such a type of solution for your problem does not work. There is a solution for your symptoms, but in that case it's up to you. As you could read earlier, pain is not just a process in which stimuli in the nervous system determine how much pain you feel. In fact, you have plenty of possibilities to influence your own pain structurally! The ways in which you can learn to influence your own pain, however, cost a lot of your own time and effort! The biggest advantage: working on your own pain problem has no side effects.
No matter how attractive it sounds, treatments where you don't have to do anything yourself to get rid of all your symptoms are often as they sound: 'too good to be true'.
Below you will find a number of other usual treatments for pain complaints.
Physiotherapy can be used to work on certain causes of chronic pain as well as to improve symptoms. In some cases, someone has chronic pain due to a wrong posture or an excess of (unconscious) muscle tension, which can be corrected by the physiotherapist. It has also been proven that good movement and exercise improve pain in the long term - although in the short term you sometimes have more complaints! The advantage of physiotherapy is that there are usually few negative side effects.
There are many types of medication available that affect pain. In case of chronic pain, it is often very difficult to find a suitable medicine, or little seems to work. There are different groups of medicines that work on different parts of the nervous system. Some drugs, such as morphine, work directly on the brain. Other drugs have more influence on the way in which stimuli are directed through the nervous system. Still others work at the site of the pain itself (and are therefore particularly suitable for acute pain, such as paracetamol). The biggest disadvantage of medication is that it almost always has a negative effect, the so-called side effects. In the case of painkillers, this is often a somewhat more sluggish feeling and less concentration. Another disadvantage is that with certain medications you have to take more and more for the same effect and that your body can even become dependent on the medication.
For some pain complaints, a specialist can operate. Your doctor knows when this is possible and will often refer you to a neurologist first. Surgery is common, for example, with herniated discs and the pain radiates to the legs or someone has difficulty walking.
Information and psychological treatment
By understanding pain and learning strategies to deal with it differently, pain complaints can really improve and pain can still be a worthwhile factor. This blog mainly focuses on information and psychological factors to help you influence your own pain.