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Different Techniques Can Help Ease Chronic Pain, Return Patients’ Smile

Larry Waters’ missionary work to spread the Gospel to foreign nations fulfilled his heart’s passion for decades, but it left his head pounding.//

Beginning in 1998, he experienced severe headaches that eventually forced him to return home.

Medicine provided little relief for the Garland resident’s cluster headaches, which occurred every day at the same time for several days in succession and caused facial throbbing, until he came to the Eugene McDermott Center for Pain Management at UT Southwestern Medical Center. There Dr. Leland Lou, associate professor of anesthesiology and pain management, performed minor surgery to deaden a nerve that was causing the problem.

“I used to have daily cluster headaches – sometimes three or four. The pain was almost unbearable, but since the surgical procedure, I have been relatively free of pain,” Dr. Waters said. “The Lord truly led me to Dr. Lou and the pain clinic.”

For National Pain Awareness Month, Dr. Lou is touting the various ways people with chronic pain – including more than 50 million Americans – can deal with chronic issues of head, back, cancer, arthritic and other types of pain, which can persist and cause physical debilitation and emotional stress.

Some techniques to manage chronic pain include:

? Medications – Over-the-counter aspirin and ibuprofen can help relieve pain, while steroids and injections are available only by prescription.
? Exercise or relaxation – Physical therapy, aquatics, yoga and massage programs can increase the body’s functionality and lessen pain.
? Acupuncture – Trained therapists aim to ease pain by inserting thin needles into specific points on the body.
? Anesthetics – Medications that can numb or block nerves that signal pain.
? Electrical stimulation – A technique to lessen pain by stimulating nerve fibers through the skin.
People in chronic pain should visit a doctor to see what might
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