Everyone has occasional aches and pains. In fact, sudden pain is a vital reaction of the nervous system that helps alert you to possible injury. When an injury happens, pain signals travel from the injured area up your spinal cord and to your brain.
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Pain will usually get less severe as the injury heals. However, chronic pain is different from typical pain. With chronic pain, your body continues to pass pain signals to your brain, even after an injury heals. This can last many weeks to years. Chronic pain can reduce your mobility and lower your flexibility, strength, and endurance. This may make it challenging to get through daily tasks and activities.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. The pain may feel sharp or dull, creating a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be steady or intermittent, coming and going without any apparent reason. Chronic pain can happen in nearly any part of your body. The pain can feel different in the various affected areas.
Some of the most frequent types of chronic pain include:
- postsurgical pain
- post-trauma pain
- lower back pain
- cancer pain
- arthritis pain
- neurogenic pain (pain produced by nerve damage)
- psychogenic pain (pain that isn’t produced by disease, injury, or nerve damage)
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 1.5 billion people over the world have chronic pain. It’s the most regular cause of long-term disability in the United States, affecting about 100 million Americans.
What causes chronic pain?
Chronic pain is usually produced by an initial injury, such as a back sprain or pulled muscle. It is thought that chronic pain develops after nerves become damaged. The nerve damage makes pain more intense and long lasting. In this condition, treating the underlying injury may not solve the chronic pain.
In some conditions, however, people experience chronic pain without any prior injury. The exact causes of chronic pain without injury aren’t well understood. The pain may sometimes result from an underlying health condition, such as:
- Fatigue syndrome chronic :characterized by extreme, prolonged weariness that’s often followed by pain
- Endometriosis:a painful disorder that occurs when the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus
- fibromyalgia:widespread pain in the bones and muscles
- inflammatory bowel disease:a group of conditions that create painful, chronic inflammation in the digestive tract
- interstitial cystitis:a chronic disorder characterized by bladder pressure and pain
- temporomandibular joint dysfunction:a condition that produces painful clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw
- vulvodynia:chronic vulva pain that happens with no obvious cause
Who is at risk for chronic pain?
Chronic pain can affect people of all ages, but it’s most frequent in older adults. Besides age, other factors that can increase your risk of developing chronic pain include:
- having an injury
- having surgery
- being female
- being overweight or obese
How is chronic pain treated?
The main goal of treatment is to lower pain and boost mobility. This helps you return to your daily activities without discomfort.
The severity and frequency of chronic pain can vary among individuals. So doctors create pain management plans that are specific to each person. Your pain management plan will be dependent on your symptoms and any underlying health conditions. Medical treatments, lifestyle remedies, or a combination of these methods may be used to treat your chronic pain.
Medications to chronic pain
Several types of medications are offered that can help treat chronic pain. Here are a few examples:
- over-the-counter pain relievers, inclusive of acetaminophen(Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin (Bufferin) or ibuprofen (Advil).
- opioid pain relievers, including morphine(MS Contin), codeine, and hydrocodone(Tussigon)
- adjuvant analgesics, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants
Medical procedures for chronic pain
Certain medical procedures can also offer relief from chronic pain. An example of a few are:
- electrical stimulation, which lowers pain by sending mild electric shocks into your muscles
- nerve block, which is an injection that stops nerves from sending pain signals to your brain
- acupuncture, which involves lightly pricking your skin with needles to prevent pain
- surgery, which corrects injuries that may have healed improperly and that may be contributing to the pain
what are lifestyle remedies for chronic pain
Additionally, various lifestyle remedies are offered to help ease chronic pain. Examples include:
- physical therapy
- tai chi
- art and music therapy
- pet therapy
How to deal with chronic pain
There is no a cure for chronic pain, but the condition can be managed successfully. It’s vital to stick to your pain management plan to assist relieve symptoms.
Physical pain is linked to emotional pain, so chronic pain can increase your stress levels. Building emotional skills can help you cope with any stress related to your condition. Here are some steps you can take to reduce stress:
Take good care of your body: Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can keep your body healthy and lower feelings of stress.
Continue taking part in your daily activities: You can boost your mood and lower stress by participating in activities you enjoy and socializing with friends. Chronic pain may make it hard to perform certain tasks. But isolating yourself can give you a more negative outlook on your condition and increase your sensitivity to pain.
Get support: Friends, family, and support groups can offer you a helping hand and offer comfort during difficult times. Whether you’re having trouble with daily tasks or you’re simply in need of an emotional boost, a close friend or loved one can provide the support you need.