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Dealing With Chronic Pain Management

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published December 19, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Although everyone feels pain at some point or another, chronic pain is a different story. Due to the huge toll chronic pain can take on the body, people who suffer from it may experience serious emotional and physiological effects beyond the physical pain itself.

Thankfully, there are ways to manage chronic pain to help lessen its burden on your life, and some of them are covered by Medicare.Doctor with clipboard

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is typically defined as pain that lasts for 12 weeks or more.

When you are injured, your body sends nerve signals to your brain, alerting it to tell you that you are hurt. But sometimes, the nerve signals don’t stop, even after the original reason for the pain has healed, which can cause chronic pain.

Although it can happen anywhere on the body, chronic pain commonly occurs in the back, neck, head, joints, mouth, face, muscles or bones.

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Who Is Affected?

Anyone can be affected by chronic pain, and there is no one injury or condition that causes it. Sometimes, there is no apparent cause at all. You may be more at risk for developing a problem with chronic pain if you have experienced:

  • Migraines or headaches
  • Arthritis
  • Past injuries
  • Surgeries
  • Infections
  • Nerve damage

Because everybody experiences pain differently, chronic pain can evoke strong emotional reactions from some people (like anxiety or depression) and simply annoy and frustrate others.

Whatever your case, work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.

Does Medicare Cover Chronic Pain Management?

Because chronic pain can include so many things, there isn’t one standardized way in which Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) provides coverage for it. But there are many different treatment options for chronic pain that Medicare does cover.

Pain Medications

Original Medicare doesn’t cover most prescription medications. It also does not cover other medications used to treat chronic pain, such as certain types of antidepressants, anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications) and muscle relaxers.

However, you might be able to get these medications through a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan

Each of Medicare’s drug plans comes with its own list of covered drugs and some plans may cover drugs designed for the management of chronic pain.

You can compare Part D plans available where you live and enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan online in as little as 10 minutes when you visit

Enroll in Medicare Part D at


Physical Therapy

Depending on where the pain is in the body, you may be able to ease your chronic pain with the help of a physical therapist.

Physical therapy can teach strength, flexibility and posture awareness, all of which can help manage chronic pain.

Medicare will pay for medically necessary physical therapy as determined by a doctor, with a potential annual cap on therapy coverage.

Medical Procedures

Certain procedures can reduce chronic pain, such as a nerve block procedure, which uses injected anesthetics to numb a group of nerve cells in the body.

This generally produces only temporary relief, but can alleviate symptoms for a short period of time.

Surgeries are typically only considered to treat chronic pain as a last resort, but such procedures may be covered by Original Medicare if your doctor says it is medically necessary.

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Other Ways to Manage Chronic Pain

There are dozens of ways to manage chronic pain that do not involve prescription medications or medical procedures. Some of these include:

Stress management

Stress makes chronic pain worse, so finding ways to cope with stress levels should be a part of anyone’s pain-management regimen.

You can use whatever methods work for you, but meditation, listening to calming music, exercising, getting more sleep and joining chronic pain support groups are some proven ways to help reduce stress levels.


With a growing number of people suffering from addiction to prescribed opioid painkillers, more and more doctors are turning to drug-free alternatives to managing chronic pain.

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese healing art is now widely accepted within the medical community, uses needles, heat and pressure applied to the skin to treat certain types of pain.


Certain types of chronic pain, like that caused by arthritis or fibromyalgia, can be positively affected by regular massage therapy.

Massages can reduce pain and stiffness or improve the overall physical function of the affected area.

Mental health is another potential benefit of massages, as they work to relax the mind as well as the body.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can help you develop skills to alter negative thoughts and behaviors that may be affecting your chronic pain.

This method centers around changing your brain’s personal response to pain, such as helping you cope with feelings of helplessness, depression or anxiety.

Non-prescription pain medications

Some people can manage the symptoms of their chronic pain with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

These types of pain relievers can be used in conjunction with other pain management strategies to maximize their effectiveness.

Medicare Supplement Plans Can Help Pay for Chronic Pain Medicare Treatment

A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan can help cover some of the out-of-pocket costs you may face if Medicare covers your chronic pain management treatment.

For example, each of the 10 standardized Medigap plans that are available in most states provide at least partial coverage for the Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayments you might face when you receive covered outpatient treatments.

A licensed agent can help you decide on a Medicare option that works for you. Call today to speak with a licensed agent and compare the Medigap plans that are available where you live.


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Christian Worstell is a health care and policy writer for He has written hundreds of articles helping people better understand their Medicare coverage options.

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