Chronic pain — overview of types and treatments

Chronic pain, which is generally defined as any pain that lasts longer than three months, can occur in virtually any area of the body. Some of the most common chronic pain types are neck and back pain, headaches, joint pain, abdominal pain and chest pain.

Chronic pain in the neck and back are so common because of the stresses placed on the spinal column in these two areas. If spinal anatomy becomes displaced and puts pressure on spinal nerves, patients can experience chronic pain both locally and in the extremities. By having a better understanding of how the location of the underlying condition can affect the way you experience pain and other symptoms, you can make more informed decisions about your treatment and give yourself a better chance of finding lasting relief.

Types of chronic pain by spinal location

The types of conditions that cause chronic pain can affect the following regions of the spine in the neck and back:

  • Cervical (upper) spine. Patients with cervical conditions may experience pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.
  • Thoracic (middle) spine. Conditions in this region of the back may cause chronic pain anywhere in the torso, including the ribs, chest and abdomen.
  • Lumbar (lower) spine. When spinal conditions are located in this region, a patient may experience chronic pain anywhere between the lower back and the toes.

If you are experiencing pain in any of these locations, it is important to see your doctor for a full diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan that can help you return to normal activity.

Treatments for chronic pain

The type and severity of chronic pain and the spinal condition you have will dictate what course of treatment is best for you. Many patients benefit from conservative treatments, such as hot and cold therapy, diet, exercise and over-the-counter pain medications. Chiropractic care, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other alternative treatments are also attempted by some patients and can be combined with more conventional conservative treatments. It is important to work in close partnership with your doctor when attempting any new form of treatment to ensure it is compatible with your existing care.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a spinal condition that causes chronic pain and you are considering surgery after conservative treatments have failed to provide you with sufficient relief, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We offer both minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization options that are often the clinically appropriate first choice compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

Contact us to learn more about these procedures and for a no-cost review of your MRI report or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate.