8. Trigger point injection

What it is: A physician injects anesthesia such as lidocaine, or anesthesia plus a corticosteroid, into muscle.

How it works: “Trigger points are bundles of muscle that are painful,” says Mehul J. Desai, MD, director of Pain Medicine and Non-Operative Spine Services at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. “Putting a needle into the trigger point allows the muscle tissue to go back to its normal structure. An injection can [relieve pain] for weeks or months.” Stretching and exercising the muscle afterward helps the injection’s effect last longer.

Pain it works well for: It can work for any kind of muscle pain caused by arthritis but not for fibromyalgia, says Dr. Desai.

RISKS: You shouldn’t have the injections more than three to four times a year. Too many create scar tissue, which can change the muscle’s ability to contract, ultimately causing more pain.

9. Meditation

What it is: Meditation is the practice of developing a deep concentration or focus. Tanya Edwards, MD, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, defines meditation as an array of mind-body and relaxation techniques – meditation, breath work, progressive relaxation, guided imagery – that help to lessen pain.

How it works: According to Dr. Edwards, stress produces chemicals in the body that increase inflammation. “With relaxation techniques, you have stress reduction and therefore decreased inflammation and less pain,” she says. Meditation also relaxes muscles that tense up with pain. Dr. Edwards suggests meditating for 20 minutes once or twice a day. For moments of acute pain, she also recommends “meditation minutes.” For example, take four to five deep breaths, counting to 10 with each inhalation and exhalation. “Just doing that four to five times a day can decrease depression and improve outlook,” she says.

Pain it works well for: “It works on any kind of pain,” Dr. Edwards says. Numerous studies have found that regular meditation practice reduces the brain’s response to pain.

Risks: None.

10. Nerve block

What it is: A doctor injects a local anesthetic, or a mixture of local anesthetic plus a steroid, into a nerve. Nerve blocks are used to block pain and also to help physicians pinpoint where certain pain is coming from.

How it works: “The anesthetic stops the conduction [of signals] along the nerve, and the steroids help [calm] the inflammatory tissue,” Dr. Desai says.

Pain it works well for: “A block is most commonly used when pain is in the spine and going down into the arm or leg,” says Dr. Desai.

Risks: Infection and bleeding are possibilities. And it’s possible that a physician could target a wrong nerve, which could lead to problems with movement or feeling in areas affected by that nerve.