Healthcare Provider Strategies
Your healthcare providers may suggest other pain treatments or pain management strategies. Each option should be discussed carefully with your healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers plan your pain treatment by asking important questions. We encourage you to ask your healthcare providers questions too, such as:
- What pain treatments usually work for this type of pain?
- What are the risks and benefits of the treatments being offered?
- What pain management treatments can be used at the same time?
HPRC offers information about specific treatment/management strategies that you may find helpful in your consideration of the various options. Check back periodically, as we will continue to add information about the most common ones.
A printable version of this information can be found here [PDF].
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine. It often is used for headaches/migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, and back, joint, and chronic pain. Thin needles are inserted into the skin in certain parts of the body that are believed to regulate the body's flow of energy (also known as qi or chi). This InfoReveal from HPRC offers more detail to help you understand this option.
Additional acupuncture resources
This overview of using acupuncture for pain from the American Cancer Society has a brief history of acupuncture, why and how it is used, and additional resources that might be helpful for anyone with pain of any kind.
Acupuncture: An Alternative and Complementary Medicine Resource Guide
The Alternative Medicine Foundation has a lot of information and resources on acupuncture.
Headaches and CAM [PDF]
NCCAM provides this fact sheet about the use of complementary medicine, including acupuncture, to manage headache pain.
The Mayo Clinic provides a brief overview of acupuncture including conditions for which acupuncture might be helpful, risks/benefits, and other information.
Acupuncture for Pain
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provides an overview of using acupuncture for pain relief. There is information on acupuncture, pain conditions for which acupuncture might be helpful, and current acupuncture research studies.
The University of Chicago Medicine provides a broad overview of acupuncture.
Spinal cord stimulators
Spinal cord stimulators (SCSs) are medical devices implanted around the spinal cord that deliver low-voltage electrical current to block the sensation of pain. SCSs may be helpful for people who are functionally limited by severe, untreatable pain, including pain from failed back surgery, complex regional pain syndrome, and neuropathic pain. Learn about them in HPRC's InfoReveal.
Additional SCSs resources
Patient Information: Spinal Cord Stimulation
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) has put together an overview about spinal cord stimulation, including information about the surgery.
MedlinePlus: Spinal Cord Stimulation
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a summary about SCSs that includes what to expect from the surgery, risks/benefits, and conditions for which the procedure is used.
Spinal Cord Stimulation: An Introduction [PDF]
Dr. Steven Falowski, an expert in spinal cord stimulation at Thomas Jefferson University, prepared this overview and a presentation summary [PDF] of SCSs.
Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are injections of pain medication around the spinal nerve roots. ESIs can sometimes reduce or help diagnose pain in the back/neck, leg, and arm. Learn more in HPRC’s article on “Epidural Steroid Injections for Pain.”
Additional Epidural Steroid Resources
Epidural injections for back pain – MedlinePlus (NIH)
MedlinePlus (a National Institutes of Health website) provides a brief overview of ESIs, including benefits/risks, types of pain for which ESIs may be helpful, and an outline of a typical ESI procedure.
Herniated Disk – MedlinePlus (NIH)
MedlinePlus also has an overview of herniated discs, their symptoms, and their treatments, including ESIs.
Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection – Cleveland Clinic [PDF]
The Cleveland Clinic has a short PDF describing ESIs including what to expect before, during, and after an ESI.
Epidural Steroid Injections – North American Spine Society
The North American Spine Society provides general information about ESIs as well as conditions ESIs may help.
Epidural Injections – Radiological Society of North America
This thorough overview of ESIs goes beyond general information to also cover risk/benefits and limitations of ESIs.
Hypnosis is a trance-like state from a heightened sense of focus and concentration. Like other mind-body strategies, hypnosis may provide temporary pain relief for many pain conditions. Learn about this healthcare provider practice in HPRC’s InfoReveal on “Hypnosis for Pain.”
Additional Hypnosis Resources
Hypnosis – National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
NCCAM has information about hypnosis including ongoing research studies and other resources.
Hypnosis for the Relief and Control of Pain - American Psychological Association (APA)
The APA provides an extensive look at using hypnosis for pain control including how it is used to manage pain and the research supporting its use for pain.
American Psychological Association (APA) - Society of Psychological Hypnosis (Division 30)
The Society for Psychological Hypnosis (Division 30) of the APA has PowerPoint introduction about hypnosis. The PowerPoint describes hypnosis, the hypnotic induction, myths about hypnosis, and various approaches to hypnosis.
Hypnosis – Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic provides detailed information about the benefits, risks, and expectations when undergoing hypnosis.
Hypnotherapy – Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK has information about use of hypnotherapy for people with cancer. Much of this information can be applied to other chronic conditions such as chronic pain. They describe hypnotherapy, why it is done, what it involves, the benefits/risks, and how to find a qualified hypnotherapist.
Trigger Point Treatments
Trigger points are muscle knots along a hypersensitive band of muscle that can cause pain. They can show up as tension and migraine headaches, ringing in the ears, pain in the jaw joint, limited range of leg motion, and low-back pain. At-home treatments occasionally relieve trigger point pain, but sometimes treatment from a healthcare provider is needed. HPRC’s article describes two approaches healthcare professionals might use to treat trigger points.
Additional trigger point treatment resources
Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management
The American Academy of Family Physicians summarizes the causes of trigger points and explores trigger point treatment options.
Trigger Point Injections
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center outlines the common causes of triggers points and where they typically form in the body. This resource also outlines how trigger point injections are given and what to expect after receiving one.
The Basics of Trigger Point Injections for Headache and Migraine
The American Headache Society Committee on Headache Education (ACHE) has information on trigger point injections to treat headaches and migraines.
Trigger Point Injection
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center discusses what happens when you receive a trigger point injection, common complications, and expectations post-treatment.