Chronic pain is pain that does not stop and persists for weeks, months, and years. It also describes pain that continues long after the injury that caused the pain has healed. It affects millions of people with debilitating side-effects that can range from low-self esteem, depression, anger. Chronic pain costs over $600 billion each year.
Pain is subjective and is different for everyone. Regardless of how severe it is, pain that goes on for a long period can be crippling. The United States population reports having more pain than people in other countries. One in three Americans says that they experience pain often and very often. There are individuals that experience severe pain every day. �
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as:
�An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.� IASP Terminology
For the layman, pain is a highly discomforting experience. It can be brought on from an injury or could be the brain is having problems processing pain signals correctly. Pain can vary in its:
- Time/s when it presents
- Involvement of other areas of the body
Pain could be limited to where the injury occurred, but pain could affect the whole body. Terms to describe pain include:
What causes chronic pain is not always clear and can be challenging to diagnose the root cause. There are possibilities like:
- Injury – Even after an injury has healed, the nerves can still send pain signals to the brain. Medical experts are unsure why this happens.
- Disease – There are conditions that can cause chronic pain. Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, headaches, and shingles are a few examples.
- Nerve issues/problems – the nerves of the nervous system can be injured themselves. This type is known as neuropathic pain.
- Unknown/Other – Pain can develop, even with no obvious injury, disease, or nerve problem.
Chronic pain is biological. As nerve impulses keep signaling to the brain. This combined with social and psychological factors can impact an individual’s treatment and health. An example is having negative emotion/s like anxiety. Emotions like this have a tendency to aggravate and exacerbate chronic pain. �
� Those who just think about their pain and discomfort seem to have greater disability than those who try to work through it and stay positive. It’s the same with work-related injuries in the United States, where those who don’t like their jobs have a much more difficult time recovering compared with those who like their jobs.
This is why the referral of a psychologist could be part of the treatment plan. A psychologist can educate a patient on how to use various relaxation techniques/tools. This can help them see and understand their pain and learn how to best combat the pain.
Living with chronic pain in the United States
Life changes are an essential part of effective treatment for chronic pain. Proper regular sleep is a must, as the body needs to heal itself and during the sleep cycle is when it happens. Living with chronic pain is a very challenging and difficult task. Taking care of yourself is the main objective.
Proper sleep, a healthy diet, moderate exercise, stress management, and proper treatment will get an individual back to as normal a life as possible with chronic pain. The aim for individuals is to figure out/learn everything they can about what is causing the pain. Understand the limits and work within them. Keep an open mind and try new ways to manage the pain. Research scientists believe that major advances in neuro medicine will generate more and better treatments for chronic pain.
Depression & Chronic pain
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