Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. The pain may feel sharp or dull, causing a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. However, chronic pain is different from typical pain. With chronic pain, your body continues to send pain signals to your brain, even after an injury heals.
How does pain travel?
Everyone experiences occasional aches and pains. However, pain is an important reaction of the nervous system that helps alert you to possible injury. When an injury occurs, pain signals travel from the injured area up your spinal cord and to your brain.
Common types of chronic pain include:
- Postsurgical pain.
- Post-trauma pain.
- Lower back pain.
- Cancer pain.
- Arthritis pain.
- Nychogenic pain (pain that isn’t caused by disease, injury, or nerve damage).
What causes chronic pain?
Chronic pain is usually caused by an initial injury, such as a back sprain or pulled muscle. It’s believed that chronic pain develops after nerves become damaged. The nerve damage makes pain more intense and long lasting. In these cases, treating the underlying injury may not resolve the chronic pain. In some cases, however, people do experience chronic pain without any prior injury. The exact causes without injury aren’t well understood.
The pain may sometimes result from 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 lining grows outside of the uterus.
- Fibromyalgia: widespread pain in the bones and muscles.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: a group of conditions that causes painful, chronic inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Interstitial cystitis: a chronic disorder marked by bladder pressure and pain.
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ): a condition that causes painful clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw.
- Vulvodynia: chronic vulva pain that occurs with no obvious cause. This can affect people of all ages, but it’s most common in older adults.
Who is at risk for chronic pain?
- Having an injury.
- Having surgery.
- Being overweight or obese.
How chronic pains can be treated?
The main goal of treatment is to reduce pain and boost mobility. This helps you return to your daily activities without discomfort. The severity and frequency of chronic pain can differ among individuals. So doctors create pain management plans that are specific to each person. Your pain management plan will depend on your symptoms and any underlying health conditions. Medical treatments, lifestyle remedies, or a combination of these methods may be used to treat your pain.
Medications are available to help treat chronic pains.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Opioid pain relievers such as morphine and codeine.
- Adjuvant analgesics, such as antidepressants.
Medical procedures to provide relief from chronic pains.
- Electrical stimulation, which reduces 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 involves lightly pricking your skin with needles to alleviate pain.
- Surgery, which corrects injuries that may have healed improperly and that may be contributing to the pain.
Lifestyle remedies for chronic pains
- Physical therapy
- Art and music therapy
- Pet therapy
How to Deal with chronic pains?
Take good care of your body:
- Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can keep your body healthy and reduce feelings of stress.
Continue taking part of your daily activities:
- You can boost your mood and decrease stress by participating in activities you enjoy and socializing with friends. Chronic pain may make it challenging to perform certain tasks. But isolating yourself can give you a more negative outlook on your condition and increase your sensitivity to pain.
- Friends, family, and support groups can lend 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.
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