Pain Management

Pain management means getting the right treatment for physical pain. The pain may be sharp, dull, aching, burning, strong, or mild.

What is Pain?

Pain comes from messages between the brain and specialized nerves. The experience varies from one person to another. There is no one-size-fits-all cure for pain.

Pain can be acute or chronic.

Acute pain:

  • Is sudden
  • Typically resolves within a certain amount of time, usually a few weeks to months
  • Can result from an illness, injury, or surgery

Acute pain often serves as a protective response from your body. With acute pain, you will generally be encouraged to stay active and gradually return to your normal activities.

Chronic pain:

  • Persists, generally for three months or more

A report on chronic pain from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that chronic pain affects about 50 million U.S. adults. High-impact chronic pain that regularly interferes with work or life affects approximately 20 million U.S. adults.

Retrain your Brain

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

Chronic pain is usually caused by something other than a tissue injury. Muscle, bones ligament, and disk injuries usually heal in three to six months. Many doctors recommend initially using medications to treat chronic pain, then taper down their use over time according to a care plan.

Chronic pain is often due to increased sensitivity of the nerves. This means that we must retrain the brain’s reaction to pain.

Effective pain management uses a variety of methods to find what works best for you. The goal is to return patients to a high level of function. Evidence-based treatments include, but aren’t limited to:

Integrative health services, like chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and massage therapy

  • Yoga or mindfulness
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Lifestyle elements, like sleep or diet

If you’re experiencing pain, talk to your primary care provider about pain management.

Pain influences people’s lives and can affect your mood and stress levels. Finding ways to reduce stress can help treat pain by winding down the nervous system.


Every person experiences and responds to pain differently. You aren’t alone and there is hope in behavioral, physical, and pharmacological alternative options. No single treatment works for everyone.

If you’re experiencing pain, you and your provider can discuss and determine the best treatment plan for you.

Opioid Safety

Opioid pain medications are often addictive and can cause overdose or death. Opioid risks include:

  • Addiction
  • Drowsiness and impaired operating of motor vehicles
  • Dangerous drug interactions
  • Overdoses can result in serious illness or death

As evidence of the risks of opioid medication increased, the Military Health System (MHS) has prescribed fewer opioids.

From April 2017 to July 2021 MHS data shows a 69% decline in prescriptions filled for opioids. Visit the Opioids page for more information on Opioids.

Additional Resources for Pain Management


Last Updated 9/11/2023