Back to Top Skip to main content

Pain Management

Pain management means getting the right treatment for physical and emotional pain, whether it is sharp, dull, aching, burning, strong or mild.

What is Pain?

However it feels, pain comes from messages between the brain and specialized nerves. Pain experiences vary from one person to another. Pain can be acute or chronic.

Acute pain is sudden and typically resolves within a certain amount of time, usually a few weeks to months. It can result from an illness, injury or surgery. Acute pain is normal and 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 for generally three months or more. A Center for Disease Control report on chronic pain estimates it affects approximately 50 million U.S. adults. High-impact chronic pain that interferes with work or life most days or every day affects approximately 20 million U.S. adults.

Retrain your Brain

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain is not usually due to ongoing tissue injury. Injuries to muscles, bones, ligaments and disks usually heal in three to six months. To assist with treatment, it can be appropriate to use medications initially and then taper down over time according to a doctor’s 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.

Active approaches are best for retraining the brain. Physical therapy, yoga, and general exercise are some examples. Diet and lifestyle also affect how our brain perceives pain.

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 are not alone and there is hope in behavioral, physical, and pharmacological alternative options. No single treatment works for everyone.

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

You also may be interested in...

Getting creative: Reducing opioid use for returning warriors

Airmen of the 174th Attack Wing participate in a weekly yoga class. Classes are intended to present an alternative way for 174th members to build both mental and physical strength. Yoga is also a way to alleviate chronic pain in the body. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Duane Morgan)

With the rise in opioid-related drug abuse and death, the Military Health System looks to complementary pain management treatments

Recommended Content:

Opioid Safety | Pain Management | Warrior Care

Proper pain management with a proper scale

The Defense and Veteran’s Pain Rating Scale

A new pain scale that measures intensity and effects on daily life helps providers and patients better understand pain

Recommended Content:

Pain Management

I learned how to retrain my brain to manage chronic pain

Retired Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Jim Wilt

Active lifestyle, healthy diet can reduce reliance on meds

Recommended Content:

Pain Management

Breaking the pain cycle

Ashley Blake, an acupuncture nurse at Naval Hospital Pensacola’s Pain Management Clinic, treats a patient with Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), one of many opioid alternatives offered at many treatment facilities in the Military Health System. BFA consists of inserting five tiny and sterile 2 mm needles into specific points of the ear where they can remain for up to three days. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brannon Deugan)

Live in agony or risk addiction? MHS pain management initiatives offer options

Recommended Content:

Prescription Monitoring Program | Mental Wellness | Mental Health Care | Substance Abuse | Physical Disability | Warrior Care | Opioid Safety | Pain Management
Showing results 1 - 4 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.