Overview of Pain Therapy

There are many types of pain and many types of pain therapy. Just as each person responds differently to pain, each person also responds differently to pain treatments.

Persistent pain can affect all aspects of life. It can lead to depression and interfere with daily activities, such as eating, sleeping, and working.

Treatment for pain often depends on the cause (e.g., injury, disease, unknown cause), severity (e.g., mild, moderate, severe), category (e.g., nociceptive, neuropathic), and type (e.g., acute, chronic) of pain. Other factors that may be used to develop a pain treatment plan include the overall health of the patient, the patient's lifestyle, and the preferences of the patient and his or her pain management team.

Goals of pain therapy are to reduce or eliminate pain, maximize the patient's ability to function, and improve the patient's quality of life. In many cases, pain medications are the first course of treatment. This treatment, which can include over-the-counter (OTC) and/or prescription drugs, is also called pharmacotherapy.

Pain medications often are used in combination with other types of treatment, including the following:

  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Counseling (e.g., individual therapy)
  • Injections (e.g., corticosteroids)
  • Neurostimulation (e.g., transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  • Rehabilitation techniques (e.g., physical therapy, lifestyle changes)
  • Surgery

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 18 Jun 2007

Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015