We all feel pain in our bodies often. It indicates the tissue damage through our sensory nerves which further passes down this information all along to the spinal cord to the brain. This does not always necessarily indicate any danger to us. But, when pain lasts longer than 12 weeks. Then it can be a sign of serious conditions developing in the body. This type of pain is known as chronic pain. Chronic pain can affect one’s physical and psychological condition, as a result, it hinders a person’s daily routine. People tend to brush it aside by saying this is a normal thing, but it is important to take necessary action if the pain is increasing every day. To know more, read the article on understanding chronic pain.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is the discomfort that people have for a longer period. The root cause of chronic pain could be injuries or illnesses.
Chronic pain can have a profound impact on physical health and lead to various health conditions like arthritis, lower back pain, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and cancer. Inflammation is a factor that develops chronic pain in people. The inflammation can persist even if the injury has healed properly, leading to increased pain. This is likely to happen in conditions like arthritis. Muscle, joint degeneration, and stiffness can also lead to chronic pain.
Chronic pain not only affects people’s health, but it also has the same effect on a person’s psychology as well. If someone is suffering from pain, it can be difficult for people to focus on their self-worth and self-esteem. People can feel rejected or less contributed towards their work. It can lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and many phobias like kinesiophobia and substance abuse.
Although there is no particular reason for developing chronic pain, our lifestyle habits can add fuel to the fire. These habits include smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, and eating fast food. As the workload in people’s life has increased, which is why they get to sleep less. Inadequate sleep can also become the reason for chronic pain in many people. An unhealthy diet also contributes to chronic pain. As there are so many processed and unsaturated fats consumed by people on a daily basis and smoking, drinking can lead to inflammation in the body.
Our body as we know gives pain to make us aware of the potential dangers inside our body system. But this pain, persistently increases and leads to dysfunction in our nervous system, developing a condition called central sensitization. Central sensitization is the hyperactive responsiveness of neurons in the spinal cord and brain. This phenomenon can affect day-to-day tasks. As a consequence of this high sensitivity, the pain can spread from the initial pain site, making another nonpainful site perceived as pain.
Symptoms Of Chronic Pain:
The common symptoms of chronic pain include
- poor sleep cycle,
- reduced appetite,
- Difficulty in concentration.
- Sensations like burning, itching, throbbing, stabbing.
- Hyperalgesia is a condition where people tend to experience increased sensitivity to painful stimuli.
- Mood swings
Treatments For Chronic Pain
Treatments are available for chronic pain. It is sometimes difficult to identify and treat chronic pain. However, medications and therapies are available for people suffering from chronic pain.
Medications play a crucial part in the treatment of chronic pain. Non-opioids are also considered in treatments like NSAIDs(Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce inflammation pain. Different types of non-opioids have been used during the treatments, but it is important to know whether the pain has arisen from tissue damage or from a dysfunctional nervous system.
Certain opioids are also used when there is severe, long-term pain. It can cause serious side effects like reduced sex drive, heart-related problems, infertility, and addiction. Opioids are not useful for everyone as they can harm some people. Therefore, it is important to discuss this with your doctor before starting any of these medications.
It is crucial to identify the cause of chronic pain. Once it is identified, it will be easier to diagnose the pain. So diagnostic tests are taken. Some of them are CT Scans, MRI, and X-RAY. CT scans can be used to make detailed images of the body. This can detect tumors, inflammations, and other conditions that cause chronic pain.
MRI uses its magnetic fields to detect the conditions like spinal stenosis, and tendonitis. X-rays also detect the broken bones and arthritis that can cause chronic pain.
Many doctors do not always go for opioids because of the potential side effects attached to them. Therefore, then comes physical therapy which has fewer side effects. Physical therapy has encouraged me to manage endurance and makes it easy to deal with chronic pain. It also increases flexibility and strength.
Many therapies like massage and stretching also have many benefits. Exercise is one of the most effective for people who suffer from chronic pain as it strengthens muscles and targets the area. Where people experience pain. Different types of aerobic exercise help to settle down the heartbeat without putting any stress. Ice also helps to reduce the inflammation of pain.
Apart from other treatments, Alternative therapies also becoming popular. These therapies include Acupuncture, massage, Tai chi, yoga, and aromatherapy. Many people are using these alternative therapies to reduce their chronic pain. Acupuncture is inserting the needle in the places where the person is feeling pain so that our nervous gets stimulated and releases hormones like endorphins which decrease the pain. Massage helps to reduce inflammation by increasing circulation, which further can decrease stress. Tai chi has been proven very effective in conditions like arthritis where there is degeneration of bones.
Lastly, aromatherapy also helps to reduce chronic pain. With the help of essential oils, it can help to increase relaxation and healing processes in one body. It is safe to use these therapies as it has low chances of side effects.