More options

Life would be simpler if taking a pill meant the end of chronic pain, but that's not true for many pain sufferers. Medications may not be the best option for mild pain. Medications don't help some people, and other people don't want to take them every day. Even when medications help, many people still face a lot of pain.

Fortunately, other options, alone or with medication, can help. Here are some to consider:

  • Lifestyle changes . You may be able to ease your pain by losing weight, quitting smoking or exercising more. Exercise can help you stay flexible and mobile. Dietitians and physical and occupational therapists can help you reach your fitness goals.
  • Electrical stimulation . Low-voltage electrical currents from small, battery-operated devices can stimulate nerves through the skin and interrupt the brain's normal pain signals. According to the ASA, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the most common form. It is not a painful treatment.
  • Psychological support . Antidepressants prescribed to help relieve pain may also help depression related to the pain. Support and counseling from a psychiatrist or psychologist may be needed, as well as self-help therapies such as relaxation or biofeedback training.
  • Surgery. Various surgical procedures target conditions that cause pain. New techniques, for example, can combat certain painful back disorders. The ASA says that surgery is considered only after all other methods have failed.
  • Complementary therapies . Many people find that acupuncture, guided imagery, meditation and other alternative therapies can ease pain and improve a sense of well-being. Scientific evidence supporting these therapies varies.