If you experience symptoms of chronic pain, you’re a member of an expansive club that may include up to 40 percent of the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It could be caused by many conditions – sometimes happening concurrently – but the exact cause is unknown. Because of that, chronic pain cannot be cured. The challenge becomes living with chronic pain but, thankfully, there are options to help you manage its symptoms.
ACUTE VERSUS CHRONIC PAIN
When people talk about acute pain, they normally mean a discomfort they can pin on a specific event or illness, like surgery, bone fractures, pain from a root canal, cuts and minor burns, or pregnancy. The pain can be sharp at times but normally subsides when a cut heals, or another condition subsides naturally.
Chronic discomfort is mysterious and puzzling; the Houdini of the pain world. It normally lasts for more than six months. You can feel chronic pain even without an injury or obvious bodily harm. Chronic pain may result from:
- Nerve pain
- Back trouble
Health Conditions May Cause Chronic Pain
Doctors and scientists haven’t identified the Holy Grail of chronic pain – its true source, but research has shown that chronic pain shows up after nerve damage. Our perception of the severity and duration of pain is driven by neurotransmitters in the brain, and when they are weakened, pain receptors fire off more frequently. This has led to the belief that trying to cure a fundamental injury may not reduce chronic pain.
What are some of the causes we can point a finger at (no, not that finger)?
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, which includes harsh, prolonged fatigue that’s often accompanied by pain
- Endometriosis is an agonizing condition which happens when a woman’s uterine lining grows on the outside of the uterus
- Fibromyalgia, which is widespread pain in the bones and muscles
- Inflammatory bowel disease refers to a group of disorders resulting in excruciating, chronic inflammation inside your digestive tract
- Interstitial cystitis is a constant disorder causing bladder pressure and pain
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
- Chronic vulva discomfort (Vulvodynia) which also doesn’t have a cause
STRATEGIES FOR LIVING WITH CHRONIC PAIN
Living with chronic pain can be a struggle for individuals and families. Here are several coping strategies which can help make your ordeal manageable:
- Discuss various treatment options: Physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medicine or creams, or alternatives like ketamine infusion therapy.
- Be understanding that common emotions of chronic pain – stress, anger, and frustration – aren’t a sign of weakness and don’t make someone a bad person.
- Be accepting of the pain and move on to begin treating it.
- Talk about your feelings when they happen, in a friendly manner.
- Offer compassion and consideration, not condescension. Offer to help but without making a loved one feel powerless: “I’m sure you can do this but let me help just once.”
- Keep a journal as a positive way to convey your emotions. Writing down your feelings adds much-needed perspective you may have lacked.
- Every family has its share of problems, but the sudden introduction of chronic pain in a loved one can magnify the drama. Offer thoughtful feedback to a loved one about what’s going on, maybe even arranging for group counseling.
- Keep your kids in the loop so they understand what’s happening and school them in simple terms relating to chronic pain and what it does to your family. Children need love and reassurance they’re not to blame for someone’s condition.
- Keep an eye out for depression and be ready to get treatment if needed.
- The benefit of group support can be medicinal, especially with members who commiserate with the struggles of chronic pain.
- Managing chronic pain requires compassion and teamwork. Coordinate and reach out to other family members so you’re not the only one providing care.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE CHRONIC PAIN
The road to managing symptoms of chronic pain begins at the same point: Diagnosis. To diagnose chronic pain, you’ll undergo tests such as X-Rays, MRI, or CT-scans, to root out a physical cause, and an Electromyography to uncover signs of nerve damage. Your doctor will know which tools work best.
KETAMINE FOR CHRONIC PAIN
Our knowledge of living with chronic pain is greater than it seems. One thing we do know is that its symptoms can be managed through innovative therapy, including ketamine which until recently had been used primarily as a pre-surgical anesthetic. If you or a loved one are living with the symptoms of chronic pain we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the innovative new treatments we offer.