Pain Care: Which Treatment Is Right for You?

by AZ Pain Doctors, on Nov 16, 2020 9:15:00 AM

Living with physical pain is a difficult challenge for many individuals. Some face short-term pain, due to illness or injury. But an estimated 50 million Americans—that’s 20% of the population—live with ongoing, chronic pain.

It’s not easy finding the right pain care that works for you. There are many options to choose from and often it takes trial and error to find the right treatment. And because each person’s case is unique, you need to work with your doctor to determine a plan that works best for your situation.

Here are some of the most common treatments to consider on your journey to living comfortably and pain-free.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

For short-term pain and lower levels of pain, your doctor might first suggest you try over-the-counter pain relief. Headaches, arthritis, pulled muscles all can be treated using OTC drugs. And if you only use them occasionally, there usually isn’t a risk of side effects.

When it comes to OTC medicine, there are two main types: acetaminophen and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are common NSAIDs.

Prescription Medication

If over-the-counter pain relievers aren't doing the job, your doctor might decide to turn to prescription pain relief. The most powerful class of prescription pain medication is opioids. While they’re effective at treating pain, there are some side effects, as well as a risk of overdose and addiction.

There are non-opioid options as well. Muscle relaxers are an excellent choice for neck and back pain. Some nerve pain medications, such as gabapentin and pregabalin help relieve mild-to-moderate nerve pain. Some antidepressants are effective in treating headaches and mild chronic pain.

Your doctor might also suggest patches, creams, and other topical treatments with lidocaine or capsaicin.

Joint Injection

This non-surgical procedure is a common joint pain treatment. Your doctor will inject a combination of local anesthetic and a corticosteroid directly into an inflamed joint to relieve pain.

It can be used at any joint, including ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. It can also offer both short-term and long-term relief. It’s often used to treat arthritis.

There are some concerns about long-term steroid use to consider, though. Steroids can disrupt your body’s natural hormone balance and could weaken muscles over time.

Trigger Point Injection

Trigger point injections target knots of muscle that won’t relax. These areas are called trigger points. These knots irritate nearby nerves and result in referred pain in other parts of your body.

A trigger point injection, typically an outpatient procedure, shoots a local anesthetic or a mix of a local anesthetic and corticosteroid into the muscle knot. These types of injections are generally used to treat muscles in the neck, arms, legs, and lower back. It’s excellent for treating fibromyalgia, and tension headaches.

Epidural Steroid Injection

Epidural steroid injections offer relief from lower back and leg pain, as well as pain in the spine and neck. These injections of a local anesthetic mixed with corticosteroid target the source of your pain and problems.

These injections often leave patients more limber and mobile than they had been before getting the shots. So, those who get epidural steroid injections also tend to enter a physical therapy or rehabilitation program during this period.

Nerve Block

If a specific group of nerves is causing pain in that area of your body, a nerve block injection can be administered. This nerve block will disrupt the pain signals these nerves are transmitting to your brain. Often, your doctor will turn to a nerve block treatment when drugs and other things don’t work.

Nerve blocks are typically meant as both short-term and long-term pain management. They can also be used for diagnostic work to find the sources of pain in your body, and a small one-time dose can help predict how your body might respond to long-term treatments.

Radiofrequency Ablation

This pain management technique uses heat to prevent nerves from sending pain signals throughout your body. Nonsurgical and minimally invasive, radiofrequency ablation inserts needles near the area where you’re feeling pain to transmit radio waves that convert to heat when in your body. This heat “burns” the nerve communicating the pain to the rest of your body.

This treatment is most helpful to reduce chronic pain in the back, neck, hip, or knee. Your doctor might suggest it if medication and physical therapy aren’t helping with your pain management.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors can help with a wide range of pain, including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and general pain just about anywhere in your body, back, neck, head, various joints. They rely on spinal manipulation rather than surgical or invasive treatments to manage your pain, muscle tension, and inflammation.

This is sometimes more effective than other treatments because chiropractic care finds the root of your pain, rather than masking it with drugs or other treatments.

Physical Therapy

Often, physical therapy and exercise are excellent ways to find pain relief. Studies have found that those who exercise regularly tend to experience less pain in their body.

Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help you with your pain. In addition to keeping your body moving and using exercises to target specific muscle groups, many physical therapists also offer massage therapy, icing and heating, ultrasound treatments, and electrical muscle stimulation.


The traditional Chinese art of acupuncture uses fine needles, heat, and pressure at specific acupoints on your body to treat pain. Doing so releases endorphins, which are naturally produced by your body to kill pain. These needles also impact the part of your brain that regulates serotonin, which affects your mood.  

Seeking Pain Care Treatment?

Are you ready for a life free of pain and discomfort? Contact our team of medical professionals to find the ideal pain care treatment for you.

At AZ Pain Doctors, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to treating your chronic conditions. We provide various treatments for all levels of pain as well as short-term and long-term issues.  

Topics:pain care