Detecting and Relieving Chronic Pain

Dr. Jennifer Ashton shares new chronic pain treatments and how to determine which treatment is best.
4:44 | 09/14/15

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Transcript for Detecting and Relieving Chronic Pain
month. And with that in mind, we're launching a brand-new series to help you erase your pain. More than 100 million Americans suffer from pain on a regular basis at a cost of $635 billion every year. Now, there's a new technique that may help sufferers say good-bye to their pain for good. Pain is a debilitating disorder that over one-third of Americans battle with every day. I have had this pain for 53 years. It turned to chronic. My migraines about ten years ago. Reporter: The medical community defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and E emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Making it so difficult to diagnose and treat. We spend about half a trillion dollars a year in the management of pain. Reporter: Over the week end, Dr. Sean Mackey led the back pain education day to a sold-out crowd. The focus is on more mind-body approaches to pain. Things such as mindfulness meditation. Physical therapy approaches. A better understanding of what their pain is and what it represents and how they can learn to take control of it. Ror six-month process to take me to husband knew about it. Why do you think he let you do it? It's not that he let me do it. It I started to explore. And once I started exploring, I Co 'T dn let gt.ou I liked the high too much. Hetried, desperately. He also protectedme. He wanted to keep my reputation. And, an amazing -- an amazing man. I see him as a hero. He doesn't see himself as a hero. But I totally see him as a hero. With you today. Absolutely. By your side. Gives you your high today? That's a great question. When you are bipolar, you miss those highs. I was first of all misdiagnosed. That brought on Ashton. Okay, you're a patient. You go to see your doctor. Cow tell them you're in pain. How do they determine what is going on with you? I'm going to take you inside the doctor brain and tell you how doctors think about pain. We think in terms of categories and anatomy. Here, musculoskeletal. A sports injury, a condition like fie br-- fibromyalga. This could be kidney, livers heart. Heart attack. Visceral pain. And then neuropathic pain. Pain caused by nerves. Phantom limb pain. The pain following shingles. Because the brain is part, it can be psychological pain or emotional pain. Pain can be different for everyone. We hear about chronic versus acute. A different category here. We're not sure what heads to chronic pain. One big theory that came out of the '80s is that everyone gets exposed to an injury or pain. The people that deal with it in a positive way, by no choice of their own, by the way. They approach it, confront it, recover. The people with chronic pain with the same painful stimulus, they develop this catastrophic worry. Avoid fear. Avoid confrontation. They get caught in a loop. Is that why we saw the new treatment about dealing with the brain and changing? And there are several once. How do you determine what's right for you? Whether you're dealing top down or bottom up. We'll talk about treatments all week. It's hard to cover it all in a 2:00 segment. Medical management of pain. We write a prescription for narcotics or opioids or nonop nonopiods. The complementary therapies. So important. This could be ma saunl, physical therapy. Acupuncture by a licensed therapist. Chiropractors. This is just the tip of the iceberg. You'll be back. Yes.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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