Pain, although uncomfortable, is a vital process that alerts your body about a possible injury. Without pain reception, you wouldn’t know that a certain part of your body is undergoing damage or is injured.
As the injury heals, the pain goes away too. However, this isn’t true for all kinds of pain. Chronic pains are ongoing aches that last for months on end. They’re much more concerning than short-term pains and often need extended medical assistance.
Below, we discuss chronic pain and its possible causes.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is any pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer. It may be dull or cause an aching sensation inside the body.
Sometimes, chronic pain may be intermittent, coming and going at several intervals. You can experience chronic pain in almost every part of your body. Some common chronic pains include:
- Post-trauma pain
- Cancer pain
- Pain due to nerve damage
- Psychogenic pain (any pain that does not result from nerve damage, injury, or disease)
- Back pain
- Postsurgical pain
Chronic pain has a more pronounced effect on the body than acute pain since it’s prolonged and is likely to recur. In instances of chronic pain, a nerve impulse keeps sending a signal to the brain about an injury that might have subsided a long time ago.
Additionally, chronic pain is also characterized by depression and anxiety. People who dwell more on their pain are more disabled than those who try to look at the brighter side.
Who Is At Risk?
Although everyone is at risk of chronic pain, the condition is more common in adults. Here are some factors that might make you more prone to chronic pain:
- Getting injured
- Going through a surgery
- Being a female
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Injury is most often the cause of chronic pain. For instance, a pulled muscle or a sprained ankle might lead to chronic pain.
Experts believe that damaged nerves cause chronic pain as they take longer to heal. Moreover, errant nerve transmission can worsen and prolong the pain. However, an injury isn’t always the cause of chronic pain. In some cases, there are other reasons
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Inflammatory bowel disease causes inflammation of the gut, leading to long-term pain.
- Poor posture
- Jobs involving lifting heavyweights
- Endometriosis: It’s characterized by the growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus.
- Fibromyalgia: The disorder results in chronic pain in the muscles and bones.
People suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome may also experience chronic pain along with weariness for long periods.
How to Treat Chronic Pain?
In chronic pain, the nerves keep transmitting the same pain message over and over again. Currently, there isn’t a cure for the condition. Instead, health care professionals aim to lower the pain while increasing mobility.
Therefore, you can do your daily activities much comfortably.
Since the pain severity is different among sufferers, medical professionals design a pain management plan for each individual separately. Other than the intensity of your pain, the management plan will also depend on the underlying cause of chronic pain.
Among different chronic pain treatments, medicines are the most common option. Some over-the-counter drugs include NSAIDs and acetaminophen. Furthermore, your doctor may prescribe opioids such as codeine and morphine.
Since chronic pain is often accompanied by poor mental health, you might have to take adjuvant analgesics, like antidepressants.
Medicines can only do so much – you also need to make some lifestyle changes. Physiotherapy is the quickest way to reduce pain, but it requires going to a licensed professional for each session.
Alternatively, you can harness the power of music therapy to get pain relief. Your healthcare provider might also tell you to spend more time around pets, get occasional massages, practice meditation, or go for yoga classes.
If your chronic pain is due to years of sitting in the wrong posture, a trained professional will help you correct your posture to ease the pain.
In some cases, patients may have to undergo certain medical procedures to lower the pain. For example, electrical stimulations reduce the pain intensity by sending electric shocks inside your body muscles.
Alternatively, a nerve block injection prevents neural transmission of the pain signal. Thus, it does not alert your brain, and the pain subsides.
If an injury is causing the pain, such as broken bones, surgery will correct the issue to assure proper healing. Finally, some professionals may use acupuncture, a healing technique that involves pricking needles into your skin, against chronic pain.
How to Manage Chronic Pain?
Although there is no cure for it, you can manage chronic pain well enough to lead a normal lifestyle. To do that, it’s essential to follow the pain management plan devised by your healthcare provider.
Additionally, you should practice self-care to ensure that you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of emotional stress that comes with chronic pain. Eat well and sleep plenty to keep your body healthy.
Plus, indulge in activities that please you or make you feel better. Exercising regularly can also help enhance wellness. However, if you suffer from chronic back or neck pain, talk to your doctor before attempting any rigorous exercise routine.
Most importantly, don’t let the pain put you down. The more you give in to the condition, the bigger impact it will have on your life. Thus, you should not give up your daily activities.
Also, have a positive outlook on life and surround yourself with people who uplift you and are ready to provide emotional support when needed.
Despite your optimism, there will be days when the pain will get to you. For such occasions, make sure you have friends and family to help you out. If you have pets at home, they can be excellent sports during this time, helping raise your spirits.
In this guide, we talked about what is chronic pain and what might cause it. Unfortunately, science hasn’t found a cure for this problem yet.
However, chronic pain is manageable, as long as you make the appropriate lifestyle changes and follow your health care provider’s advice.