Aches and pains are common. In fact, pain is an important reaction of the nervous system that helps alert you to possible injury. Whenever there is pain, brain signals travels from the injured area up your spinal cord and to your brain and notifies it of the pain. In case of Chronic pain, your body continues to send pain signals to your brain, even after an injury heals. This can last several weeks to years and, as a result, can limit your mobility and reduce your flexibility, strength, and endurance. Over time,this may make it challenging to get through daily tasks and activities.
Understanding Chronic pain
Chronic pain lasts at least 12 weeks. The pain may feel sharp or dull, causing a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be steady or intermittent, coming and going without any apparent reason. Chronic pain can occur in nearly any part of your body.
A number of factors play a role in the experience of chronic pain. The image below can help you conceptualize the complicated nature of the chronic pain.
Tissue damage. The tissue injury or damage initially starts the pain. The tissue damage gives an input to the nervous system (the pain signal) which is also termed “nonciceptive input.”
Pain sensation. In the simplest terms of this model, pain sensation is the actual perception that occurs in the brain after the nerve signal (due to nonciception) travels from the periphery to the central nervous system. Pain sensation is experienced in the brain, while nonciception occurs at the site of injury.
Thoughts. The Cognitions or thoughts occur in higher brain centers. These are an assessment of the pain sensation signal coming into the nervous system as well as events surrounding it. These thoughts can be conscious or unconscious and will greatly influence how the pain signal is perceived.
Emotions. The emotional aspect of pain is a person’s response to thoughts about the pain. The belief about pain creates a distinction whether it is a serious threat or not, which creates a corresponding emotional response which may include fear, depression, and anxiety. Conversely if you believe the pain is not a threat, then the emotional response will be negligible.
Suffering. The term “suffering” is often used as a synonym for “pain” even though they are theoretically and conceptually distinct. For instance, a broken bone may cause pain without suffering. But in contrast, bone pain due to a tumor may cause the same pain as a break but the suffering will be much greater due to the “meaning” behind the pain. Suffering is very closely tied to the emotional aspect of pain and less to the physical aspect.
Pain behaviors. Pain behaviors are defined as things people do when they suffer or are in pain. These are behaviors that others observe as typically indicating pain, such as talking about the pain, grimacing, limping, moving slowly, and taking pain medicine. Pain behaviors are in response to all the other factors in the pain system model (tissue damage, pain sensation, thoughts, emotions, and suffering) and are also affected by previous life experiences, expectations, and cultural influences in terms of how the pain is expressed. Interestingly, pain behaviors are also affected by the outside environment, such as how others respond.
A Chronic pain is usually caused by an initial injury, such as a back sprain or pulled muscle. Some research points that chronic pain develops after nerves become damaged. The nerve damage makes pain more intense and long lasting. In these cases, treating the underlying injury may not resolve the chronic pain.
In some cases, however, people experience chronic pain without any prior injury. The exact causes of chronic pain without injury aren’t well understood. rs with no obvious cause
Who is at risk for chronic pain?
Chronic pain can affect people of all ages, but it’s commonly affects older adults. Besides age, other factors that can increase your risk of developing chronic pain include:
- having an injury
- having surgery
- being female
- being overweight or obese
How is chronic pain treated?
The severity and frequency of chronic pain can differ among individuals. So doctors create pain management plans that are specific to each person. Your pain management plan will depend on your symptoms and any underlying health conditions. Medical treatments, lifestyle remedies, or a combination of these methods may be used to treat your chronic pain.
The main goal of treatment should be to reduce pain and boost mobility. This helps you return to your daily activities without discomfort.
Medications for chronic pain
There are Several types of medications are available that can help treat chronic pain. Here are a few examples:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin (Bufferin) or ibuprofen (Advil).
- Opioid pain relievers, including morphine (MS Contin), codeine, and hydrocodone (Tussigon)
- Adjuvant analgesics, such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants
However the medications is to be strictly followed under a healthcare provider’s assistance.
Medical procedures for chronic pain
Certain medical procedures can also provide relief from chronic pain. An example of a few are:
- Electrical stimulation: This procedures helps reduces pain by sending mild electric shocks into your muscles. It numbs you pain.r nerves and tricks your brain to not feeling pain.
- Nerve block: This process includes an injection that prevents nerves from sending pain signals to your brain
- Acupuncture: This age old practice involves lightly pricking your skin with needles to alleviate pain. This techniques dates back to centuries and helps treat it.
- Surgery: Surgery corrects injuries that may have healed improperly and that may be contributing to the pain.
Lifestyle remedies for chronic pain
Additionally, various lifestyle remedies are available to help ease chronic pain. Examples include:
- Physical therapy
- Tai chi
There isn’t a cure for chronic pain, but the condition can be managed successfully. It’s important to stick to your pain management plan to help relieve symptoms.
Physical pain is related to emotional pain, so chronic pain can increase your stress levels. Building emotional skills can help you cope with any stress related to your condition. Here are some steps you can take to reduce stress:
Take good care of your body: Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can keep your body healthy and reduce feelings of stress.
Continue taking part in your daily activities: You can boost your mood and decrease stress by participating in activities you enjoy and socializing with friends. Chronic pain may make it challenging to perform certain tasks. But isolating yourself can give you a more negative outlook on your condition and increase your sensitivity to pain.
Seek support: Friends, family, and support groups can lend you a helping hand and offer comfort during difficult times. Whether you’re having trouble with daily tasks or you’re simply in need of an emotional boost, a close friend or loved one can provide the support you need.
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