Myth: Chronic Pain Is Unresponsive to Treatment


The myth that chronic pain is unresponsive to treatment is still perpetuated in today’s society. Unfortunately, this false belief can be detrimental to individuals with chronic pain, as they may believe that the only choice is to endure their pain and limit its effect on their daily living and emotional well-being.

However, with advances in medication and technology, chronic pain treatment often reduces or even eliminates chronic pain. Finding the right treatment or combination of treatments may take time, but it is definitely possible.

Four examples of chronic pain treatments that have moderate to high success rates of include the following:

  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
    RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat various health conditions, including chronic neck or back pain. RFA for chronic pain involves the insertion of a needle-like probe into a targeted area near a nerve. The probe sends out radiofrequency waves to create a heat lesion in the surrounding tissue. This lesion prevents the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain. Repeated RFA provides a reduction in pain for approximately 85% of individuals for up to 10 months.
  • Pain reprocessing therapy (PRT)
    PRT is a type of psychotherapy that aims to rewire neural pathways in the brain so that pain signals are interpreted as neutral rather than a sign of danger. The Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry recently published a peer-reviewed study of PRT from a randomized controlled trial done at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Approximately 66% of the study participants with chronic back pain who participated in eight sessions of PRT experienced complete pain relief, while 98% experienced at least some pain relief.
  • Nerve root block injections
    Nerve root block injections are used to reduce inflammation and numb pain. Studies show that between 45% and 60% of individuals experience significant pain relief. These percentages are higher in individuals who also receive physical therapy to improve muscle strength.
  • Anticonvulsant drugs
    Although originally developed and approved to treat epilepsy, some anticonvulsant drugs are also used to treat chronic nerve pain, such as trigeminal neuralgia and fibromyalgia. Success rates are high, providing at least partial pain relief in 80% to 90% of individuals with trigeminal neuralgia.

Treatment of chronic pain can be challenging, and some treatments may work better for certain individuals than for others. However, treatment can help reduce or eliminate chronic pain.

Additional sources used to create this article include the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, British Journal of Sports Medicine, The Washington Post, and University of California San Francisco Health.

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