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Chronic pain can be of real concern at any age but especially so as one ages. Fortunately, there are ways of countering chronic pain.

While pain medications may be helpful to some people, they also pose the risk of side effects and addiction. Non-drug-based options are important in combating chronic pain, and there are an array of options from which to choose.

Excess weight is not necessarily, in and of itself, a cause of chronic pain. However, it can play a role in worsening health conditions that are. That is why losing weight is considered an important factor in helping to combat chronic pain.

Exercise can help with chronic pain. Not only is it useful in this respect in its own right, but it can also be of further help by aiding in dropping excess weight that may be exacerbating the health condition or conditions that are causing the pain in the first place.

Yoga and tai chi are two forms of exercise that have grown in popularity in recent years. These particular exercise practices have proven beneficial for a variety of people, but they especially hold promise for those seeking to reduce chronic pain.

Acupuncture is one therapy that is considered generally safe and effective in treating chronic pain. The insertion of needles into the skin at specific spots can prompt the body to release endorphins, which may help to ease pain.

Another way to deal with chronic pain is through physical therapy. While the exercise involved in such a program itself can help with pain, what one particular physical therapy program run by the VA has found is that what is even more helpful is when that exercise is combined with instruction on the neuroscience of pain.

VA Geriatric Scholar Ralph Magnuson and colleagues from the Redding VA Clinic in Northern California have been exploring the combination with promising results. Through pain neuroscience education (PNE), a better understanding of the neurological aspects of pain is gained.

The program helps to better engage people in their own management. The combination of exercise and PNE has yielded positive results for all participants. In fact, the average recipient reported a 20 percent or more improvement on their pain scores.