Each one of us experiences some form of pain from time to time. Pain is a nervous system reaction trying to alert you for possible injury. After an injury, pain signals travel through your spinal cord to your brain. However, while pain might not indicate a serious health condition when it lasts for quite some time, you might need to seek your doctor’s intervention since it might be chronic pain. Continue reading to understand more and the causes of chronic pain.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is the pain that won’t go away for more than three months. The pain can be persistent or come and go. One can experience chronic pain anywhere in their body. It can prevent you from going on with your daily activities, such as having a social life, working, and taking care of your family. Chronic pain can lead to mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. It can also deter you from sleeping, hence making the pain unbearable.
Is There a Difference Between Chronic Pain and Other Pain?
Chronic pain is different from other pains, such as acute pain. Acute pain occurs when one gets hurt, such as getting cut or having a broken bone. Acute pain doesn’t last long and disappears after your body heals from the cause of pain. On the other hand, chronic pain persists for an extended period after recovery from an injury or illness. In some cases, it can happen without an apparent reason.
Causes of Chronic Pain
In most cases, causes of chronic pain result from an injury such as a back sprain. Chronic pains occur after nerves are damaged. Due to the damaged nerves, the pain becomes intense and long-lasting. Unfortunately, in most cases, treating the underlying cause of the pain may not make the pain go away.
As earlier mentioned, chronic pain may also develop without any known cause. This makes the exact reason for experiencing chronic pain without an injury unknown. However, it may be due to some health conditions such as:
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ): This condition causes painful popping, clicking, or locking of the jaw.
- Endometriosis: This is a painful disorder that develops when the uterine lining grows outside the uterus.
- Intestinal cystitis: This condition leads to pain and bladder pressure
- Chronic fatigue syndrome: This condition is characterized by prolonged weariness accompanied by pain
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Fibromyalgia: This is widespread pain in one’s bones and muscles.
Which Parts of the Body Are Likely to Experience Chronic Pain?
One can experience chronic pain in different forms and appear on any part of their body. The most common types are:
- Neck pain
- Arthritis, or joint pain
- Headaches, such as migraine
- Cancer or tumor pain
- Scar tissue pain
- Back pain
- Testicular pain
- Muscle pain
- Neurogenic pain resulting from damaged nerves
Is Chronic Pain Common?
Chronic pain is among the most common conditions. It’s also among the reasons why most people seek medical attention—about 25% of adults in the US experience it.
Who’s at Risk for Developing Chronic Pain?
While chronic pain is more common in older adults, it can affect people from all age groups. However, other than age, other factors that may increase your chances of developing chronic pain include:
- Having a surgery
- An injury
- Being overweight or obese
- Being female
Is it Treatable?
While there’s no cure for treating chronic pain, it can be manageable when the underlying cause is treated. For instance, chronic joint pain can be reduced by treating arthritis. The main reason for managing chronic pain is reducing pain and boosting mobility.
Nevertheless, since the severity of the pain differs from one person to the other, doctors create pain management mechanisms specific for each individual. One’s pain management plan depends on their symptoms and the cause of the pain. You may require medication, lifestyle remedies, or both to manage your chronic pain.
Several types of medication can help with chronic pain. They include:
- Opioid pain relievers, such as morphine (MS), codeine, and hydrocodone (Tussigon)
- Over-the-counter painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin
Some medical procedures can help. The following are just a few:
- -Nerve block – an injection that stops the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain
- -Electrical stimulation – it reduces pain by sending electric shocks to the muscles
- -Surgery – it repairs injuries that might have healed improperly, leading to chronic pain
- -Acupuncture – involves pricking the skin with needles to reduce pain
Other than medication, lifestyle options can help with chronic pain. They include:
- Physical therapy
- Pet therapy
- Tai chi
How to Deal with Chronic Pain
Chronic pain has no cure. However, the condition is manageable. It’s crucial to adhere to your pain management plan to minimize symptoms.
It’s also important to understand that physical pain is linked to emotional pain. Therefore, chronic pain can hike your stress levels leading to depression. It’s, therefore, crucial to establish emotional skills to help you reduce stress levels. The following are some steps that can help reduce stress:
- Take care of your body: Ensure you eat a healthy balanced diet, get enough sleep, drink enough water, and exercise regularly to lower your levels of stress
- Continue with your daily activities to keep your mind engaged
- Seek support: if you feel depressed, it’s important to seek a professional’s help. Friends and family can also be a good support system to help you cope
What does Chronic Pain Have to Do with Emotional Health?
Final Thoughts on Causes of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than three months. Chronic pain can develop in any part of the body and can be experienced by anyone. While there’s no cure for chronic pain, some medications help ease the pain. If you’re under chronic pain treatment, stick to your treatment plan, and your symptoms will improve.