Pain occurs when something hurts, causing an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. It’s normal for you to have pain when you are injured or ill. But pain that lasts for weeks, months, or years is not normal. However, your pain can be acute or chronic pain.
Everyone has experienced pain at some time or other. This can either be a cut, a sports injury, childbirth, surgery, or kidney stones. All these can produce varying degrees of pain. In these cases, the pain has a known cause and resolves when the cause is no longer there. This type of pain is acute pain.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts much longer than 3 months. It may last months or even years. Chronic pain may interfere with your daily activities. Regardless of the cause, chronic pain affects all aspects of your life. It ranges from straining relationships to making it difficult to keep up with work and home responsibilities.
Common reactions to chronic pain over time include fear, frustration, anger, depression, and also anxiety. These feelings can make it harder to manage chronic pain. This is especially if you use alcohol or drugs to deal with your symptoms.
Chronic pain can occur anywhere in your body. Anyone can get chronic pain. It’s more common in older adults, but it’s not a normal part of aging. Older adults are more likely to have long-term medical problems, such as diabetes or arthritis, which can lead to ongoing pain.
What causes chronic pain?
The cause of chronic pain is not always clear. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Sometimes, chronic pain is caused by an old injury or infection, or by a disease. Some people have pain that does not have an identifiable cause.
Conditions that may trigger or cause chronic pain include:
- headaches or migraines
- back problems
- nerve damage
- previous surgery.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of chronic pain include:
- Mild to very bad pain that does not go away as expected.
- Pain that is shooting, burning, aching, squeezing and throbbing.
- Soreness, tightness, or stiffness.
- Feeling tired, having trouble sleeping, or mood changes.
- Lack of energy and also appetite changes.
Besides, the pain itself often leads to other symptoms. These include low self-esteem, anger, depression, anxiety, or frustration.
How is chronic pain diagnosed?
Pain that lasts 3 months or longer is considered chronic pain. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history. Telling him or her about your pain will help them find the right treatment for you. Tell them how it feels and where it’s coming from. Also talk about what makes the pain worse or better. Besides , don’t forget to add how it affects your daily life.
Doctors often use pain scales to help rate the intensity of the pain. Your doctor will do a physical exam. He may run tests to help determine the cause of your pain such as imaging tests. This is to find out more about its possible causes.
How is it treated?
The goal of treatment for chronic pain is to reduce pain and to improve your ability to function. Treatment will usually not take away all of your pain. But they can reduce how much pain you have and how often it occurs.
Using over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen may also help. Read and follow the instructions on the box. Your doctor might recommend a prescription pain reliever. Be sure to follow his or her instructions for how to take the medicine. Many prescription pain relievers are opioids. Opioids can be very effective when taken as directed. However, opioids have caused concerns because they have been linked to dependence and addiction.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
A TENS machine is a simple way of blocking pain signals. It uses self-adhesive pads to pass an electric current through the skin. It’s a bit like rubbing the sore bit better or using a hot water bottle to provide comfort. Not all people respond to TENS, but it does provide some pain relief for certain individuals.
Activity and exercise
Being active and taking exercise is a good prescription for managing pain. Knowing where to start can be daunting for some people with chronic pain. Because they often find it hard to do things on some days more than others. Don’t worry by the word ‘exercise’ – any type of movement is exercise. Just choose a level of exercise that suits you. Most of all it should be enjoyable.
Acupuncture is used to treat many painful conditions such as migraine and back pain. In acupuncture, the acupuncturist will insert thin needles just under the skin at specific points on the body. It probably stimulates natural anti-pain chemicals in the spinal cord.
Finding a way to relax can help to reduce pain. Anything which makes you feel good, you enjoy or gives you pleasure is a form of relaxation. Hobbies and activities may have taken a back seat due to your pain, but it’s worth thinking about how to get back to doing things you enjoy. Anything that helps you to focus on things other than your pain is a good form of self-management.
Talk to your doctor if your pain does not go away or if it gets worse. You may need to try different treatments to find what works for you. Living with chronic pain can be hard. Counselling may help you cope. It can also help you deal with frustration, fear, anger, depression, and anxiety.
It is important to take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and also try to exercise moderately. Do the best you can to manage stress and depression because they can make your pain worse.
Besides, learn about what is causing your pain. Understand your limits and work within them. This is to make sure you don’t cause yourself more pain. Be open to trying new ways of managing your pain.