Thursday, August 14, 2014

Managing Chronic Pain

Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Acute pain, such as a nagging headache or an ankle injury after a fall, typically goes away shortly after treatment. But chronic pain is different, requiring another management approach.

What is chronic pain?

According to this site, pain is a normal trigger in your central nervous system that alerts your body of injury or illness.
Persistent pain that last longer than 6 weeks is considered chronic.
Typical types of chronic pain include: chronic back pain; chronic neck pain; fibromyalgia, chronic wide spread pain that affects nerves; and arthritis, painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints.

What causes chronic pain?

While chronic pain may be caused by different factors, some include:

1. An old injury or accident. You may find even after treatment for an injury, the pain continues.
2. Lower-than-normal levels of endorphins.  Clinical research has found that chronic pain sufferers often experience lower-than normal levels of endorphins, the hormones in your body that produce the feel-good response. Findings don’t specify whether this occurs as a result of injury or accident, or if an individual is born that way.
3. Lack of movement.  In the case of arthritis or chronic lower back pain, healthcare professionals recommend moderate inactivity can actually worsen pain. Unfortunately, when you’re in pain, you want to sit more and move less, which often is counter-productive.

What is chronic pain syndrome?

In addition to neurologically based chronic pain, individuals experience anxiety, depression, anger, and significant changes in their lifestyle. Specialists in the area of chronic pain refer to the “terrible triad” of chronic pain – suffering, sleeplessness, and sadness – which impacts pain sufferers and their families.

What are other effects of chronic pain?

Fatigue. Chronic pain is exhausting for those who suffer from it, often leaving individuals too tired to do much else.
Debilitation. Sufferers often are forced to severely alter their lives as a result of pain. This includes spending less time with family and friends, less participation in the hobbies and activities they once enjoyed, and sometimes giving up work.
Depression. Chronic pain patients may suffer from depression as a result of this significant upset in their lifestyle.

How can you manage chronic pain?

Medications. Both over-the-counter and those prescribed by a healthcare provider may be helpful. Remember to use your FamilyWize Discount Prescription Drug Card when filling prescriptions at your pharmacy for maximum savings.
Complementary practices such as:
1. Acupuncture: View our blog about acupuncture from November, 'Acupuncture--What is it? Does it Work?'.
2. Electrical stimulation: A treatment used to strengthen muscles or activate nerves to activate healing through electric impulses.
3. Biofeedback: An approach that teaches individuals that their thoughts control their body, which is believed to be helpful in managing chronic pain.
Exercise.  Always speak with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program to ensure it’s appropriate for your condition.
Minimize stress. Studies have shown that pain and stress have a similar effect on the body, with an increase in stress aggravating existing pain.
Surgery. This option is usually a last resort.

Many individuals find a combination of these therapies are most useful in managing chronic pain.

What advancements have been made in chronic pain management?

Clinical trials are constantly being held for those who suffer from different types of chronic pain. New findings are released through, a registry and results database with publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world.

As always, Be Wize & Be Healthy!

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