Pain

Pain

What is a Chronic Pain?

Pain is a normal bodily reaction towards any kind of injury or illness, designed to make the person aware of injury and to both treat the injury as well as making it clear to avoid it in the future. It is a warning sign that’ll let you know when something is wrong in your body and the absence of it indicates to you that your body has healed from the injury or illness.

The onset of pain is usually an injury or a sign of illness in the part of the body where pain is occurring. The sudden arrival of pain is known as acute pain.

Acute pain is effective in that it demands the immediate attention of the person and forces him or her to act right away. This typically prevents the pain from getting worse. The reaction to acute pain can be very simple, like the reflex action you experience when you touch a hot object with your hand jerking away immediately.

Some actions can be very complex such as resting or cooling a bone bruise, or keeping a sprained ankle elevated above the heart. The pain can sometimes become very severe and force the person to visit a physician right away.

However, pain continues for a long period of time even after its cause has died down for many people, and this is known as chronic pain syndrome. Chronic pain can go on for 6 months or even longer, and when unaddressed can lead to chronic medical conditions and major debilitating damage to your body.

The feeling of being in pain comes from a series of response messages coming from your central nervous system. An injury, whether minor or major, sends a message to your pain sensors in the form of an electrical signal that travels from one nerve to another and reaches your brain. Your brain will then process this signal and then send a message making it clear you’ve been hurt and that continuing on as you were is not a smart choice.

This signal will stop once your injury has been properly healed or rehabilitated. However, with chronic pain it becomes so that the nerve signals keep on firing to your brain even after your injury situation has been resolved.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Some common sources of chronic pain include headaches, backaches, joint pain caused by arthritic conditions, injuries and sinus pain, and more.

Chronic pain is also a symptom of many advanced cancers, which is why it is important that you know the signs of chronic pain and the symptoms that go along with it before it reaches unbearable levels of severity. Some causes of prolonged pain include the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis

This is a specific kind of arthritis and is usually the outcome of the wear and tear that can take place on the body. It occurs when the protective cartilage present between the bones starts to wear away, and this is increasingly common in people over the age of 55.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is an autoimmune disease and can lead to painful and severe inflammation in your joints.

  • Back Pain

This pain comes from nerve compression, muscle strain, and even arthritis of the spine.

  • Fibromyalgia

This is another neurological condition that may cause tenderness and pain in some parts of the body. Pain is experienced at what are called ‘trigger points.’

Some other causes of chronic pain include inflammatory bowel disease and surgical trauma.

Pain Symptoms And Signs

Chronic pain syndrome can take a toll on your mental and physical health. The nature of chronic pain means that it is constant. Increases in any causative activities or life stresses will make the pain increase alongside them.

Some common symptoms of chronic pain are:

  • Pain in joint
  • Muscle aches
  • Burning pain
  • Problems in sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • The loss of flexibility and stamina
  • Mood swings such as anxiety, irritability, and depression

Treatment For Chronic Pain

Pain management helps to decrease your pain and enables you to take on and complete day-to-day activities in a much more enjoyable manner, as well as maintain a positive outlook towards the day.

Doctors have several medical techniques that can help in treating pain. Some methods are more effective than others, such as using pain medicine, while sometimes simple techniques like relaxation and using your imagination to distract yourself can also work.

The following treatments are among the most common methods used by people to reduce pain:

  • Acetaminophen

This is a common ingredient found in Tylenol and has many different equivalents. This pain medication is sold in prescription form and sometimes is available over-the-counter.

  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an element of Traditional Chinese Medicine to heal your body. It goes back to 2500 years and is done using needles.  The needles are placed in specific ‘meridian’ points across your body and is extremely popular today.

  • Analgesics

These are pain medications that refer to a group of drugs known as painkillers. Examples of these medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. The word analgesic is derived from an ancient Greek word, and it means to stop or reduce the pain.

Non-prescribed or over-the-counter pain relievers are used to treat moderate pain, while prescribed pain relievers are used in treating more severe pain.

  • Anticonvulsants

Even though these medications are used in treating seizure disorders, sometimes doctors prescribe anticonvulsants for treating pain as well.

  • Surgical Implants

When pain medications and physical therapies such as acupuncture stop working and fail to offer adequate relief from pain, people often opt for surgical implants to help minimize the chronic pain they feel. There are two kinds of surgical implants used in treating pain; Intrathecal Drug Delivery and Spinal Cord Stimulation Implants.

In an intrathecal implant, surgeons make a pocket under the patient’s skin which is large enough to hold a drug pump, and this pump then delivers medicine such as morphine or any other muscle relaxant to the space around your spinal cord where pain signals usually travel.

Spinal cord stimulation implants are different, with electric signals being sent to the spinal cord and certain nerves specifically to help with blocking the pain signals from reaching your brain. The low-level electric signals are entirely safe, and this type of implant is usually used for limb and back pain.

References:

  1. MedicineNet – Chronic Pain: Symptoms & Signs
  2. eMedicineHealth – Chronic Pain
  3. EverydayHealth – Know Your Pain Treatment Options
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.

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