Everyone experiences random aches and pains. In fact, sudden pain is an important reaction of the nervous system that helps aware you to possible injury. During an injury, pain signals travel from the injured area through your spinal cord and to your brain.Pain can be acute or chronic .
Pain will often become less severe as the injury heals. Though, chronic pain is different from usual pain. With chronic pain, your body continues to send pain signals to your brain, even after the healing of an injury. This can last several weeks to years. Chronic pain can reduce your mobility flexibility, strength, and tolerance. This may make it very difficult to perform daily life tasks and activities.
Chronic pain is described as pain that lasts for minimum 12 weeks. The pain may feel sharp or dull, leading to a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be constant or intermittent, coming and going without any evident reason. Chronic pain can start in nearly any part of your body. The pain can feel different in the various affected areas.
Some of the most common types of chronic pain include:
- postsurgical pain
- post-trauma pain
- lower back pain
- cancer pain
- arthritis pain
- pelvic pain
- neurogenic pain (pain caused by nerve damage)
- abdominal pain
- psychogenic pain (pain that isn’t caused by disease, injury, or damage of nerve)
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 1.5 billion people in the world have chronic pain. It’s the most common cause of prolonged disability in the United States and it affects around 100 million Americans.
What causes chronic pain?
Chronic pain is usually caused by an initial injury, such as a back sprain or pulled muscle. It’s thought that chronic pain develops after the damage of nerves. The nerve damage leads to more intense and long-term pain. In these cases, treating the basic injury behind the pain may not fix the chronic pain.
In some cases, though, people experience chronic pain without any previous injury. The exact causes of chronic pain without injury aren’t well understood. The pain may sometimes occur due to an underlying health condition, such as:
- chronic fatigue syndrome: characterized by extreme, prolonged weariness that’s often accompanied by pain
- endometriosis: a painful disorder that occurs when the uterine endometrial tissues grows outside of the uterus
- fibromyalgia: widespread pain in the bones and muscles triggered by stressful conditions
- inflammatory bowel disease: a group of conditions that leads to painful, chronic inflammation in the GI tract
- interstitial cystitis: a chronic condition causing pressure and pain in bladder
- temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ): a condition that causes painful clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw
- vulvodynia: chronic and unexplained pain in vulva that occurs with no obvious cause
Who is at risk for chronic pain?
Chronic pain can affect people of all ages, but it most commonly affects older adults. Besides age,there are some other factors that can increase your risk of developing chronic pain :
- having an injury
- having surgery
- being female
- being overweight or obese
How is chronic pain treated?
The main aim of treatment is to lower pain and improve mobility. This helps you return to your daily life activities without any trouble.
The severity and frequency of chronic pain can vary among people. So doctors make pain management plans that are specific to each person. Your pain management plan will based on your symptoms and any fundamental health conditions. Medical treatments, lifestyle remedies, or a combination of these methods may be used as a treatment of your chronic pain.
Medications for chronic pain
Various types of medications are available that can help treat chronic pain. Here are given some examples:
- over-the-counter pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen
- opioid pain relievers, such as morphine , codeine, and hydrocodone
- adjuvant analgesics, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants
Medical procedures for chronic pain
Certain medical procedures can also give relief from chronic pain. Few examples are:
- electrical stimulation, which decreases pain by sending mild electric shocks into your muscles
- nerve block, which is an injection that prevents nerves from sending pain signals to your brain
- acupuncture, which includes gently pricking your skin with needles to relieve your pain
- surgery, which rectifies injuries that may have not healed properly and that may be leading to the pain
Lifestyle remedies for chronic pain
Moreover, various lifestyle remedies are available to help relieve chronic pain. Some examples are:
- physical therapy
- tai chi
- art and music therapy
- pet therapy
Dealing with chronic pain
There isn’t a cure for chronic pain, but the condition can be controlled successfully. It’s necessary to continuously follow your pain management plan to help ease your symptoms.
Physical pain is associated with emotional pain, so chronic pain can increase your stress levels. Developing emotional skills can help you cope with any stress associated with your condition. Here are some steps you can follow to reduce stress:
Take good care of your body: Eating healthy, getting good quality of sleep, and exercising o regular basis can keep your body healthy and reduce your stress level.
Continue taking part in your daily activities: You can improve your mood and reduce stress by taking part in activities you enjoy and socializing with friends. Chronic pain may make it difficult to perform certain tasks. But isolating yourself can give you a more negative outlook on your condition and increase your sensitivity to pain.
Seek support: Friends, family, and support groups can lend you a helping hand and offer condolence during your tough times. Whether you’re having difficulty with daily tasks or you’re simply in need of an emotional enhance, a close friend or loved one can give the support you require.