Chronic Pain: reasons, symptoms, and treatments

What is chronic pain?

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be explained as pain that lasts at least for 12 weeks. The pain may make you feel  sharp or dull by causing a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be steady or irregular, coming and going without any apparent reason. Chronic pain can occur in nearly any part of your body.

The feeling of pain comes from the series of messages which zip through your nervous system. When you hurt yourself, the injury turns on pain sensors in that area. Message is sent to the brain through them in form of electrical signals, that travels from nerve to nerve until it reaches to your brain. Your brain feels  the signal and transfers out the message that you hurt.

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Usually the signal stops when the cause of the pain is resolved — your body repairs the wound on your finger or your torn muscle. But with this pain, the nerve signals keep firing even after you have healed.

These are some of the most common types of chronic pain:

  • headache
  • postsurgical pain
  • post-trauma pain
  • lower back pain
  • cancer pain
  • arthritis pain
  • neurogenic pain (pain caused by nerve damage)
  • psychogenic pain (pain that isn’t caused by disease, injury, or nerve damage)

Conditions Causing Chronic Pain:

Sometimes this painbegins without any obvious cause. But for most of people, this starts after an injury or because of a health condition. Some of the leading causes include:

  • Past injuries or surgeries
  • Back problems
  • Migraines and another headache
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve damage
  • Infections
  • Fibromyalgia, a condition in which people feel muscle pain throughout their bodies

Symptoms:

Chronic pain can range from mild to severe. The pain can continue day by day or come and go. The pain can feel like:

  1. Low ache
  2. Throbbing
  3. Burning
  4. Shooting
  5. Squeezing
  6. Stinging
  7. Soreness
  8. Stiffness

There can be many other symptoms such as:

  • Feeling very tired or wiped out
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mood changes
  • Weakness
  • A lack of energy

Treatments

1. Chronic Pain Medications

Pain patients have often prescribed medications as a first-line treatment. Your doctor will explain all your medication options to you, but he or she will most likely start you with the lowest dose of a medication to see if it relieves your pain. You may take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-depressants, muscle relaxants, or opioids (also known as prescribed narcotics) for your chronic pain.

2. Interventional Pain Management

Pain management is more than being stuck with needles for injections. A pain management specialist may recommend facet rhinology, spinal cord stimulation, and intrathecal pumps (pain pumps). These treatments may provide pain relief, but they don’t heal the underlying cause of your pain. But while you have less pain, you can try addressing the underlying cause through physical therapy.

3. Physical Therapy to Relieve Pain

A physical therapist can put together a personalized plan for you that helps reduce your pain and other symptoms—and may make your daily life less pain-focused. Physical therapy involves a mix of passive treatments (eg, massage or hot and cold therapies) and active treatments (eg, stretches to improve your range of motion, such as the stretch shown here).

4. Get a Massage

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) covers quite a range of treatments: acupuncture, massage, meditation, and herbal supplements, to name a few. You may want to try a combination of these treatments in addition to conventional treatments (such as medications).

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