Chronic pain sufferers struggle daily with physical discomfort, making daily tasks challenging. In addition, they can also struggle with problems such as emotional stress, insomnia, and depression.
Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain
The best way to know what chronic pain is to understand the difference between it and acute pain. Acute pain is the short-term pain you feel when you cut your finger, sprain your ankle, or pull a muscle. This is your bodies signal to reduce strain on the injured area and seek treatment. When pain lasts longer than the standard healing time (3 to 6 months), it is considered chronic pain. With chronic pain your nerves become overactive and your body begins to adjust to persistent discomfort. This can cause other issues such as sleeplessness, depression, or anxiety.
Your nervous system and chronic pain
The central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) is your body’s control center when it comes to pain. Pain can either increase or decrease, based on the cues being sent by the nervous system’s pain signaling pathway, which get turned on more easily when someone is suffering from chronic pain. Consequently, a person can become more responsive and feel higher levels of pain more easily.
Recognizing chronic pain
so how do you know if the type of pain you are experiencing is chronic?
Some of the indications to look for are:
- Your pain lasts over six months
- The amount of pain you feel seems greater than what you would expect
- Sometimes, you experience pain without any apparent cause
- You experience insomnia, anxiety, or depression
Causes of chronic pain
Chronic pain can start for a number of reasons. Typically, chronic pain begins after the tissue isdamaged, as a result of an illness, or after nerve damage.
Some of the most common conditions that cause chronic pain are:
- Herniated disc
- Diabetic neuropathic pain (hand and foot numbness)
- Post-surgical pain syndrome
Diagnosing your pain
In order to find the source of your pain a pain specialist will need to do a full medical exam. Your doctor will take a detailed description of your pain’s origin, length of duration and pattern (e.g. triggers that set it off). Your physician may also run tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CAT scans to help uncover the cause of your pain. These steps will help your doctor provide a proper diagnosis.
Treating your chronic pain
Chronic pain is unique to each person. That is why it is important to see a pain management physician that can help you put a customized and balanced treatment plan together. Some of the treatments your pain management doctor may recommend to you include pain-relief injections, medications, device implants or regenerative therapy.
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