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Dealing With The Pain

If you experience pain on a regular basis, you are not alone. It's estimated that as many as 75 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

Medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay will share some pain management tips on Wednesday's The Early Show.

It's a huge problem, Senay says. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that almost 13 percent of people surveyed reported pain that resulted in an average of a loss of four and a half hours per week while they were at work.

Headache was the most common pain condition reported, followed by back pain, and then arthritis pain and other musculoskeletal pain. All that pain adds up to an estimated cost of more than $60 billion a year in lost productivity.

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Chronic pain, Senay says, is a major problem for an individual both physically and psychologically. People can become depressed, they can become anxious. It can affect not only the ability to work, but the ability to be happy and carry on normal daily life. Chronic pain can cause other physical problems such as muscle weakness, loss of strength and patients can even become physically immobile.

The biggest problem when it comes to pain management, Senay says, is the clinical fact that no one treatment works for every patient, including patients with the same type of pain with the same cause. There has also been reluctances by doctors in the past to recognize and treat pain with the more powerful addictive painkillers. But these days, more doctors are treating pain as a fifth vital sign to routinely evaluate.

Senay says if you suffer from pain that doesn't go away or reoccurs often, see your doctor for an evaluation. The best way to treat pain is to discover and treat the cause of the pain.

Stress-related pain can be helped by physical therapy, including exercise, heat therapy, massage therapy and ultrasound.

Keeping your weight under control can also help with pain related to physical stress like osteoarthritis, according to Senay.

Another way to reduce pain is through behavioral and cognitive therapy such as relaxation, hypnosis and biofeedback techniques.

New research also shows treating the psychological problems related to the chronic pain such as depression can also bring pain relief.

Senay explains depending on the type of pain and the severity, medication can play a role at any time during pain therapy. There are various types of painkillers available both over-the counter and from your doctor, from the aspirin and acetominophen to the opioids like morphine. And sometimes an implanted device can even deliver the drugs. For some types of pain, anti-depressants or anti-convulsant medications can help.

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