Solutions for Chronic Pain and What Has Worked Best for Me

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. March 13, 2017

Solutions for Chronic Pain and What Has Worked Best for Me

Most of my pain comes from breaking my neck – chipping vertebra C5 – due to a fall in my home in 2014. I was informed that the piece of bone that I chipped is an attachment for three neck muscles. By damaging this bone, the muscles in my neck ache regularly. I have tried a lot of different remedies for my chronic pain. Let’s look at what is advised by specialists and what has worked best for me.

Per NIH MedlinePlus, “50 percent of older adults who live on their own and 75-85 percent of the elderly in care facilities suffer from chronic pain. Yet, pain among older adults is largely undertreated, with serious health consequences, such as depression, anxiety, decreased mobility, social isolation, poor sleep, and related health risks.”

NIH MedlinePlus suggests to involve a team of different pain management specialists (physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, pharmacist, and others) who specialize in pain management to treat chronic pain.

I have also involved a neurologist and some holistic medical professionals in my care. I will relate my findings below.

Vicky Law with the Huntington Post offers “6 Simple Ways For Older People To Deal With Chronic Pain

  1. Maintaining an Active Lifestyle. It’s very important that you get as much daily activity you can since a sedentary lifestyle is one of the primary causes of chronic pain.

My experience: I agree 100%. My pain decreases when I keep myself physically fit through low-impact exercise, stretching and proper diet. Walking every day is especially important to my pain management. Sitting too long exacerbates my pain.

  1. Taking Medication. When prescribed by a doctor, medication can be incredibly effective at treating the symptoms of chronic pain. NIH MedlinePlus suggests 8 questions to ask your health care provider, especially in regards to pain medication.

My experience: Pain medication helps reduce my pain when it becomes higher than a level 6 or 7 out of 10. I avoid taking pain medication unless I really need it. Of course, your health care specialist is essential in ensuring that you are taking the right kind of pain medication at the proper dose.

  1. TENS Therapy. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, abbreviated as TENS, is a popular treatment for chronic pain caused by muscular issues. A TENS unit is a small electrical device with two electrodes. A low voltage current passes through the skin and into the muscle tissue, creating impulses that are detected by the central nervous system. There are no side effects, making this a popular alternative to addictive medications.

My experience: I have not tried this treatment but I would be interested in pursuing it. Have any of you tried TENS? If so, what was your experience?

  1. Chiropractic Care & Massage Therapy. Chiropractors can manually reposition bones into their correct places, reducing the effects of chronic pain. Massage therapists attack this problem from a different angle, forcing tense or imbalanced muscles to relax.

My experience: I get a great amount of relief from massage therapy. It works so well for me that I am planning on getting massage therapy on a regular basis.

  1. Assisted Living. When chronic pain gets to a point where basic self-care is simply not possible, Vicky Law advises that elderly patients should have a live-in caretaker or relocate to a group home so that all of their basic needs are met.

My experience: I can certainly see where this route would be important for many folks who have severe chronic pain.

  1. Reduce Stress. For people who suffer from chronic pain, stress can be a major problem. Our body reacts to stress with increased blood pressure and muscle tension. This amplifies the pain, creating a cycle that is hard to break.

My experience: I agree completely that stress increases my neck pain. This is especially true when I feel pressure to meet deadlines or I am in an uncomfortable situation. There are many ways to reduce stress, including meditation, getting outdoors, and seeking help from a therapist or life coach. These approaches have helped me immensely.

Some other remedies that I have tried include:

  • I did get some pain relief from going through acupuncture treatments for a few weeks. I did not find the results to be long lasting but the temporary relief was helpful.
  • Hot baths and showers. These help me relax and reduce my pain. I especially like to take baths with Epson salts.
  • Heat wraps. I find these to be very helpful with reducing my pain.
  • Muscle creams. These are helpful, too.

My pain management specialist has suggested that I might get relief from injections, including a facet block and a rhizotomy. I have not tried injections but would be curious to know whether any of you have tried them and your impressions.

Whether you have pain from an injury or from chronic conditions such as arthritis, treatment is available. I find that staying active helps me improve my overall health and disposition. I try to not dwell on the pain that much. I have learned to accept it, but have also found ways to reduce it.

If you are one of the 50 million Americans dealing with chronic pain or are a caregiver, let us know what you have found that provides you with the most relief.

Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.

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