Chronic pain is a common condition that affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. But what is it, and what causes it?
Chronic pain is pain that occurs for prolonged periods of time. It is typically pain that continues for more than three months, either continuously or in bouts. It is important to remember however that chronic pain is not an illness in and of itself, but rather the symptom of an underlying condition. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to identify the cause of the pain, which can make it harder to treat.
There are though a variety of conditions that are known to cause chronic pain such as cancer, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. Below are some of the most common causes of chronic pain:
The above are some of the more common reasons for chronic pain, but as mentioned above the reality is that sometimes the cause cannot be easily identified. For those dealing with the pain, not knowing the reason can be very frustrating and can lead to other issues, such as mental health problems.
Can Chronic Pain be Treated?
The good news is that even when the cause of the pain is not immediately apparent, there are treatments available. Pain doctors are specialists who know how to evaluate, diagnose, and treat pain. They have received advanced training in pain and how to deal with it and often work at specialized pain clinics. If you have been suffering with pain that is not responding to treatment for more than 12 weeks, your doctor might refer you to a pain clinic for further evaluation and treatment.
Pain doctors tend to specialize in other areas of medicine too, such as neurosurgery, anesthesiology, oncology, psychiatry, and orthopedics. Some pain clinics are part of a hospital where a team of professionals will also be a part of the pain management team. The team could also include social workers, physical therapists, nurses, and counselors. Working together, the team will devise tailored treatment plans to meet the individual needs of patients.
Treatment for chronic pain often includes a combination of medication like over the counter drugs and prescription medication along with physical therapy and behavioral therapy. Pain doctors often include therapies including massage, meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, and acupuncture in their treatment plans. In some instances, surgery may be necessary.
Can Chronic Pain be Managed at Home
There is no denying that chronic pain can have a massive impact on one’s life. Dealing with pain regularly can be depressing and irritating. It can affect daily life and interfere with the ability to sleep. This in turn leads to a lack of focus and energy, which can make a person feel even more depressed and irritable. Those stuck in a cycle of pain and depression can find it hard to cope.
Despite the temptation to stay at home, it is far better to get out and about, however painful it might be in the beginning. You should try to perform as many of your normal daily tasks as you are able to. By continuing to take part in activities that you enjoy, you can boost your mood and reduce stress caused by pain.
Try to eat a healthy diet and avoid using alcohol to numb the pain as this can lead to further problems with sleep. Try some relaxation exercises such as meditation to help you relax as relaxation has been known to help ease pain. Some pain clinics have even started to offer cannabis as a treatment option. Be sure to talk with your doctor to ensure your chronic pain treatment works for you.