You got a sunburn – no big deal. It was uncomfortable for a few days, but the pain subsided as your skin turned slightly darker. But what about the pain in your forearm? You don’t do any heavy lifting, weren’t injured, but it won’t go away. That could be chronic pain.
What is chronic pain?
“Chronic pain lasts much longer. Chronic pain may last months or even years. Chronic pain may interfere with your daily activities. And because the pain lasts so long, people who have chronic pain may also have low self-esteem, depression, and anger.”
The physical and psychological symptoms related to chronic pain are manageable, often with treatments like ketamine.
The difference between chronic and acute pain
Acute pain is localized, has a definite cause, and will eventually subside. It’s the sort of pain that’s mostly unpleasant, caused by a sunburn, bee sting, stubbed toe, or a mild ache or burning sensation. It rarely lasts.
Is it all in my brain?
For years, your hip hurt with every step. The pain became so intense and long-lasting that your doctor concluded it was time for replacement surgery. Once you recovered, you discovered your hip still hurt. What gives?
You can blame the chronic pain sensation on your brain. Thanks to central sensitization, your “brain gets used to prolonged exposure to pain signals and adjusts to them,” according to pain management specialist Robert Bolash, MD.
Chronic pain and other conditions
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain is a huge problem. By some estimates, more than 50 million U.S. adults experience it each year. It may result in other conditions affecting a person’s health, including:
- Depression is a mental health disorder classified by a stubbornly depressed mood or little interest in activities, impairing daily life.
- Anxiety, is a mental health illness described by feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear that are powerful enough to restrict your daily activities.
- Somatization disorder, once called hysteria. It’s “a chronic psychiatric condition beginning before age 30, more commonly in women than men, in which the sick person has many physical complaints and impairments either in the absence of organic pathology or greatly in excess of the degree of pathology.”
- Conversion disorder, also known as a functional neurological disorder. It is characterized by “nervous system (neurological) symptoms that can’t be explained by a neurological disease or other medical condition. However, the symptoms are real and cause significant distress or problems functioning.”
- Psychogenic pain disorder, which isn’t a real diagnostic term. It’s used to describe a pain disorder caused by psychological factors. Such things as fears, beliefs, and deep emotions can cause, increase, or extend pain.
- Hypochondriasis, which is an obsession around the idea of having a severe but undiagnosed medical condition. It usually starts during adulthood.
- Substance abuse disorder, which affects your brain and behavior and means you can’t control your use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine.
Symptoms of chronic pain
Because everyone is different, chronic pain symptoms are unique for each person. They may include headaches, back and neck pain, cancer pain, arthritis, and pain caused by nerve damage. Thankfully, most of these symptoms have more than one treatment option, such as physical or psychotherapy combined with medicine like ketamine.
What causes chronic pain
Every so often, chronic pain is the result of an old injury or infection, or disease. Sometimes the pain is mysterious, without a known cause.
Many conditions that could cause or trigger chronic pain include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Back trouble
- Nerve damage
- Previous surgical procedures
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosing instances of chronic pain normally involves an appointment with a medical doctor, followed by a series of tests and procedures (blood test, X-Rays, magnetic resonance imaging, among others) to determine a cause. Once a cause – or more than one – has been determined, you and your doctor can talk about treatment options. Besides physical therapy, your doctor may recommend surgery or other medical procedures, psychotherapy, or store-bought or new treatments like ketamine.
Chronic pain shouldn’t be taken for granted. If you suffer from pain that doesn’t seem to have a cause and has lasted for months, talk with your doctor or therapist about diagnosis and treatment options. Treatments like ketamine may help manage symptoms and give you back control of your life.
Ketamine, a prominent anesthetic known across the globe and used for decades, is also a powerful pain reliever. Ketamine is especially useful as a pain treatment because of its unique ability to possibly bring relief to pain symptoms within hours or even minutes, rather than the weeks or months traditional medication can take for some people.
Research into ketamine for mood and pain disorder treatment is still ongoing, but it is believed that ketamine helps foster new connections between synapses and restore damaged nerve connections. This, in essence, rewrites the parts of your brain contributing to your symptoms.
Contact us today to learn more about ketamine infusions for chronic pain management.