Chronic pain is like the boisterous, crazy uncle you try to avoid at the family reunion. Encounters are painful, last longer than you would like, and result in the same statement: “Wow, I never expected that …” It is a mysterious condition, but its symptoms can be managed with persistence.
WHAT IS CHRONIC PAIN?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Pain in its most benign form warns us that something isn’t quite right, that we should take medicine or see a doctor. At its worst, however, pain robs us of our productivity, our well-being, and, for many of us suffering from extended illness, our very lives. Pain is a complex perception that differs enormously among individual patients, even those who appear to have identical injuries or illnesses.”
Pain goes from acute to chronic when its symptoms last for weeks, months, or years, and when the cause is untreatable and unknown.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS FOR CHRONIC PAIN?
The impact of chronic pain in America is catastrophic – affecting 100 million people and exacting a financial toll of more than $600 billion every year. If you suffer from chronic pain, you can be helped if you understand the causes of pain and the variety of steps you can follow to learn to manage its symptoms. Scientists believe that progress in neuroscience can lead to more effective treatments for chronic pain in the years ahead.
PAIN ON THE BRAIN
The human brain is the most complicated organism known to man, with literally billions of neurotransmitters firing off signals that our body interprets as pain, pleasure, hunger, anger, danger, satisfaction, depression – all the “things” we need to function. Researchers believe that chemical imbalances in the brain, and, specifically, faulty neurotransmitters, affect our perception of pain. An especially important factor in the play known as Chronic Pain is the glutamate, a neurotransmitter whose role in nervous system function, increased sensitivity, and duration of pain, is just now being understood with greater clarity.
Researchers believe drugs like ketamine may improve glutamate functionality.
AM I AT RISK OF CHRONIC PAIN?
If you are concerned about risk factors that may contribute to chronic pain, your chances of successfully managing the symptoms have likely increased exponentially. Why? The key to treating numerous physical and mental health conditions is recognizing symptoms, triggers, and predispositions – and acting quickly before suffering worse consequences. What are some of the risks of chronic pain?
Some kinds of chronic pain have numerous causes. Back pain, for example, may be caused by a single factor or any combination of these factors: Years of poor posture. Improper lifting and carrying of heavy objects. Being overweight, which puts excess strain on the back and knees. A congenital condition such as curvature of the spine.
Generally, these all into three major risk categories:
- Biological risk factors, like age, genetics, race, fitness, instances of previous illness, or injury.
- Psychological risk factors, including childhood trauma or abuse and mood disorders.
- Lifestyle risk factors, such as anxiety, tobacco or drug use, or working a dangerous job.
All of these play a role in your chance of experiencing chronic pain symptoms.
CHRONIC PAIN RELIEF
To be diagnosed with chronic pain, you likely will undergo a physical exam and then one or more tests like an X-ray, MRI, or CT-scan, to search for a physical cause, and an Electromyography to see if there is nerve damage. How do you relieve chronic pain? There are several potential treatments, but you should talk to your doctor about which is best for your condition and ask about health risks and benefits.
Managing chronic pain – like the condition itself – is playing the long game. Most people cannot make the pain disappear for good, but its symptoms can be managed over time with resolve. If you are experiencing chronic pain, call us today to schedule a free consultation. There is hope. We can help.