Everybody suffers random pain. In fact, sudden pain is a major nervous system response that helps you realize a potential injury. In an injury, pain is transmitted from the injured area to the spinal cord and brain. Pain may be acute or chronic.
The pain often decreases when the wound heals. However, chronic pain is not the same as normal pain. In the case of chronic pain, your body still sends pain signals to the brain, even after an injury has healed. It may take weeks to years. Chronic pain has the potential to reduce your mobility, flexibility, strength and tolerance. This can make it extremely difficult to complete daily tasks and activities.
Chronic pain is referred to as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. The pain can be acute or dull, resulting in burning or pain in the affected regions. It can be constant or intermittent, going back and forth without any obvious reason. Chronic pain may occur in almost all areas of your body. Pain varies from one region to another.
Some of the most commonly reported types of chronic pain are:
- abdominal pain
- postsurgical pain
- post-trauma pain
- lower back pain
- pelvic pain
- neurogenic pain (pain from nerve injury)
- psychogenic pain (pain that is not due to illness, injury or nerve damage)
- cancer pain
- arthritis pain
As per the American Academy of Pain Medicine, over 1.5 billion people around the world experience chronic pain. That’s the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States, affecting about 100 million Americans.
What are the reasons for chronic pain?
Chronic pain is usually caused by a pre-existing injury, as a sprain in the back or a pulled muscle. Chronic pain seems to develop after nerve damage. Nerve injuries lead to more severe, long-term pain. In such cases, the treatment of the basic injury behind the pain may not resolve the chronic pain.
In certain cases, however, people experience chronic pain with no previous injury. The exact reasons for chronic pain without injury are poorly understood. Pain can sometimes occur because of an underlying medical condition, such as:
- chronic fatigue syndrome: extremely weary and prolonged, often accompanied by pain.
- endometriosis: a painful disorder that occurs when the tissues of the uterine endometrium develop away from the uterus.
- fibromyalgia: generalized pain in the bones and muscles caused by stress.
- inflammatory bowel disease: a group of ailments which causes chronic and painful inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
- interstitial cystitis: a chronic condition that causes pressure and soreness in the bladder.
- temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ): a condition that causes a painful clicking, bursting or blocking of the jaw.
- vulvodynia: Chronic, unexplained pain of the vulva that occurs without an obvious cause.
Who is at risk for chronic pain?
Chronic pain can affect anyone of any age, but it usually affects elderly people. Over and above age, there are other factors that may increase your risk of developing chronic pain:
- being female
- overweight or obese
What is the treatment of chronic pain?
Treatment focuses on reducing pain and enhancing mobility. It will help you to resume your daily activities without any problems.
The seriousness and frequency of chronic pain may vary from person to person. As a result, physicians develop individual pain management plans. Your plan to deal with pain will be based on your symptoms and basic health conditions. Medical therapies, lifestyle remedies, or a combination of these methods can be used as a cure for your chronic pain.
Medications for chronic pain
There are different types of medications that may help in the treatment of chronic pain. Below are a few examples:
- non-prescription analgesics, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- opioid painkillers, like morphine, codeine and hydrocodone.
- adjuvant painkillers, such as antidepressants and anti-convulsants.
Medical procedures for chronic pain
Some medical procedures may also help with chronic pain. Here are a couple of examples:
- Electrical stimulation that reduces pain by sending light electric shocks into your muscles.
- nerve block, which is an injection that stops the nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain.
- acupuncture, which involves delicately stitching the skin with needles for pain relief.
- surgery, which corrects wounds that may not have healed correctly and that may cause pain.
Lifestyle remedies for chronic pain
In addition, a variety of lifestyle cures are available to help relieve chronic pain. A few examples include:
- art and music therapy
- pet therapy
- physical therapy
- tai chi
Dealing with chronic pain
There is no remedy for chronic pain, but the disease can be managed successfully. There is a need to continually monitor your pain management plan to help relieve your symptoms.
Physical pain is caused by emotional pain, As a result, chronic pain may increase your stress level. The development of emotional skills can help you deal with any stress related to your condition. Here are a few ways to reduce stress:
Take good care of your body: Eating healthily, getting good quality sleep, and regular exercise o base can keep your body healthy and reduce your stress level.
Continue taking part in your daily activities: You can enhance your mood and reduce stress by participating in activities you like and socializing with friends. Some tasks may be complicated by chronic pain. However, isolation can give you a more negative view of your condition and increase your sensitivity to pain.
Seek support: Friends, family and friends groups can lend you a helping hand and offer their condolences during this difficult time. Whether you are struggling with everyday tasks or simply need emotional enhancement, a close friend or loved one can provide you with the support you need.