What is Chronic Pain?
Whenever any part of your body gets cut or torn, like in the muscles, the sensory nerves around the area always get triggered. The triggering then gets transmitted to the nervous system, which quickly responds by transferring the information as an electric signal to your brain. The brain interprets this signal and transform it into information that alerts your conscience that part of you is injured and needs care – this is the time you begin feeling pain.
Under ordinary occurrences, such pains last until when the wound heals up. This happening occurs gradually: you will always feel less pain as the injured section heals with time, until it is no more. It is at this juncture that the sensors through the nerve transmitters convey a message to the brain about the healing, thus causing it to stop the feeling of pain. Situations, however, exist whereby the pain progresses until even after the complete healing of the wound/injured area – this is a condition called chronic pain.
Such pains may not have a particular cause, yet may last months or, in some cases, a year. Fingers have been pointed towards infection, nerve damage, back complications, and surgery factors to be the leading causes. However, this is not clear yet.
Chronic pain typically brings about mild but constant headaches, mood shifts, feelings of weakness, trouble finding sleep, among many other effects. This condition causes discomfort and, therefore, seeking medical care would be very appropriate.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is not a gender or age discriminant condition. Its causing factors have not yet been specified. Research reveals that it might be caused by a series of elements which causes general body pains.
Characteristic of these cases is the joint pain experienced by old age persons. It comes from the bones and may last for months to years if not medically attended. The joints or bones sometimes could have been injured or damaged in some manner.
Another typical cause of this pain is damaging of a nerve or the nervous system. Nerves assist in the transmission of signals to the brain from the sensors. If part of them gets critically injured, then the likelihood is that conditions of extreme and prolonged pain might result.
In some individual cases, such as back pain, several factors could be of contribution. For instance, they can be:
- Improper posturing which you do for many years
- Carrying or lifting heavy items the wrong way
- Having excess weight which translates into pain when performing some physical exercises
- Wearing high heels
- An inherited illness like the curvature of one’s spine
- Distressing injury
- The uncomfortable mattress you sleep on
- Normal spine aging
In other cases, diseases form a significant part of the chronic pain causatives. Conditions like fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are famous culprits. Nonetheless, stubborn pain may as well result due to ailments such as cancer, gallbladder, stomach ulcers, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis disease.
As you might have noticed, this pain type is extremely complex and hard to handle sometimes, considering some of the causes are never particular. The primary roots here though are illness and injury; therefore, treatment always follows this. Health specialists will still have that individual prescription for you.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Every chronic pain type will have their unique characteristics. However, common ones among them include:
- Difficulty finding sleep
- Mood swing
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of concentration
Different Types of Chronic Pain
The existence of chronic pain occurs in various categories, and this always helps doctors know what type they are treating before giving out prescriptions.
Several types exist among which are:
- Nociceptive Pain: This pain results when a body sustains injuries and has developed wounds. May also occur because of a specific, aggressive disease
- Somatic pain: Sharp, throbbing pain resulting from skin injuries by external factors
- Visceral pain: Severe pain resulting from our internal organs
- Neuropathic: Refers to pain sourcing from damages caused in the body nerves
- Psychogenic: Pain caused by certain mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety
- Idiopathic pain: This pain type exists with no particular cause
This pain type is prevalent, and at least most of us have suffered from it while running or playing around. It refers to such pain occurring in different body parts out of inflammations or physical injuries of both external and internal body section.
We are talking about that pain that you feel when you hit your leg on the edge of a table. The perception of this pain occurs typically through the nociceptors, one of the specialized body nerves which detect painful stimuli and coordinate that signal through the spinal cord to reach the brain for interpretation and effective response.
Nociceptive pain exists in two main types, the somatic and visceral. Bodily pain of this kind is comprised of sharp pain, throbbing sensations and dull headaches detectable by particular nerves situated in the skin, joints muscles, and subcutaneous tissues.
The pain is usually triggered by a chronic or acute injury process, which sometimes may be unpredictable. Examples of such illnesses are pains from cuts, bruises and diseases such as arthritis.
Visceral pain, on the other hand, refers to such pain felt from the internal structure of the body. They include stomach pains, constipation, cancer or internal injuries. Their occurrence is of reference – one cannot tell precisely where the pain is but can generalize the area in which it is felt.
Other differing facts between somatic and visceral pain is that, unlike in bodily pain, it comes with other symptoms such as nausea, throwing up, or jitteriness.
General nociceptive pains include:
- Non-nerve damage caused by pelvic pain
Thwarting this condition calls for suitable medical care involving both medicines and therapies. Medications are mainly prescribed for internal pains. Treatments comprise of:
- Hot and cold therapy
- Physical therapy
- Acupuncture or biofeedback
This pain is just one of the nociceptive pain types detectable by sensory nerves situated in the soft body tissues, muscles and even on skin.
The pain can easily be detected from where it originates. Once the nociceptors sense the injury, it is immediately conveyed as a signal via the spinal cord to the brain for interpretation and resolution.
Some typical examples of somatic pain comprise of:
- Tension headaches
- Non-nerves caused back pain
- Pelvic pain resulting from joint instability
Through proper medical and therapeutic procedures, this pain type can be cured.
This is the second type of nociceptive pain. It is mainly associated with internal organs. Nociceptors located in the inner body parts will make a sensation of the injuries or hurting conditions and relay the signal to the brain via the spinal cord.
With visceral pain, detection is a little bit difficult. One cannot pinpoint where they are coming from. However, they can sense the characteristic of the pain and the area in general where they feel it. One thing with this pain type is that sometimes the pain is never at the exact point of injury/origin, it may be felt somewhere else. For example, internal injury may cause a headache.
Some examples of visceral pain include:
- Prostate pain
- Bladder pain like the cystitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Treatment procedures for this pain type comprise of both medical and therapeutic methods, and sometimes both. Several painkiller drugs exist and work effectively in relieving one of the specific pain conditions. A health physician will always have an appropriate prescription for you.
Usually, when our body parts are injured, possibilities rise that nerves around such areas might be impaired or damaged, and they may not function appropriately. The pain associated with this usually is sharp and may come and go.
One of the conventional examples of neuropathic pain is the phantom limb syndrome. Though it occurs rarely, this pain type yields a situation where the brain still gets signals relating to body parts which were removed due to certain illnesses or injuries.
The brain interprets these signal impulses as the presence of a source of pain in the body; hence, your body will always react because of this. You might, therefore, experience headaches, among other pain discomforts.
Neuropathic pain includes examples such as:
- Post-mastectomy pain
- Phantom limb pain
- Peripheral neuropathy is sometimes known as diabetic neuropathy
Possible causes include:
- Facial nerve problems
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Multiple myelomas
- Nerve or spinal cord compression resulting from herniated discs or arthritis in the spine
- Spine surgery
- Thyroid problems
Treatment involves massage, counseling, acupuncture, physical and relaxation therapies. Additionally, medical procedures can be employed, such as the use of painkillers to help thwart the pains.
It purely concerns the psychology of a person — many times, when caught under a stressful condition which yields depression and anxiety, a particular pain crops up and affects the entire body. This is what we refer to as psychogenic pain. It is a condition that is difficult to prevent as there is never a clear cause towards it.
However, the following factors have been noticed to have a close relationship with its causes:
- Personal Beliefs
- Individual emotions
- Developed fears
- Particular mental disorders such as depression or anxiety
Common symptoms relating to this pain type includes:
- Muscle pains
- Stomach pains
- Back pains
Since there isn’t any specific causative towards this condition, no particular treatment method has been identified to be the ultimate solution. However, the combined efforts of medical experts and therapists seem to, so far, be the best available treatment options.
Here are relevant treatment methods:
- Non-narcotic painkillers
Note that some of the medicines you use, such as opioid painkillers, may have addictive effects. Always ensure you follow doctor’s instructions and report any abnormal side effects which may occur.
This is a particular type of chronic pain which comes with unique characteristics. The pain does not have any physical or psychological relation, yet it still exists and can be felt.
Perhaps you might feel this, your whole body feels tired but not really, mild headache which sometimes seems not to be present and general body weakness that is hard to define the cause of. Well, that is now the idiopathic pain we are talking about. Current scientific knowledge is limited to this; it cannot determine its specific cause.
Here are possible conditions in which idiopathic pain might occur:
There are some diseases and circumstances in which the origin of depression may be known or idiopathic. These include:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) – the state can yield into pain relating to nerve damage plus physical incapacity
- Peripheral neuropathy – results in severe pain, plus numbness associated with itchiness
- Fluid pressure in the brain – it results in dizziness, vision impairment and also headaches
- Interstitial cystitis – influences pain in both the urinary tracts as well as the bladder
- “Ice-pick” headaches – causes pain the nerves connecting to the eye
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – This affects the digestive system. It results in significant pain.
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) – it results in both headaches and pains in the joints
- Vulvodynia – influences pains in the pelvic areas in women
- Fibromyalgia syndrome, the amalgamation of widespread pain, cognitive impairment – causes reasoning impairment and fatigue
- Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis – the condition results in chest pains, cough, breath shortness, and mild headaches
Idiopathic pain frequently occurs in those who have a history of a particular pain disorder. Such disorders comprise of fibromyalgia and TMJ, among others.
Because it does not have an apparent cause, treatment of idiopathic pain proves to be very problematic.
Living With Chronic Pain
Managing chronic pain conditions might not be very easy at times, or to some people, however, it is possible. Several already proven tips exist that help in taking control of the condition. Below is a list of them:
- Learning composure
Living a peaceful life is a paramount method towards ensuring you avoid certain chronic pains, such as those relating to psychology. In this process, you will have to embrace meditation for one’s self. One way to achieve this is by participating in yoga exercises. Also, you can take in a heavy breath, which offers you feelings of relaxation.
For effectiveness, always have a scheme well organized for this session. It is the most comfortable therapy which would relieve you of these pains.
If all this do not work, you can seek medical attention from a health specialist.
- Reduce stress
Stress is one factor with significant influence towards the escalation of chronic pain disease. However, as much of this pressure can be found in our daily lives, we should try as much as possible to ensure it is limited.
The best way to do this is through engaging in stress-reducing activities. You can go out with friends, party, listen to calming or exciting music, talk to friends and avoid anxiety causing factors.
- Participate in physical exercises
Body exercise is one crucial idea which assists in relieving our bodies of some chronic pains. Routine exercise will help strengthen your muscles and avoid re-injury of places with previous injuries. It also helps reduce excess weight, which may result in other severe health conditions.
Doctors advise regular exercise, as it not only helps curb one health disorder but many of them.
- Avoid excessively drinking alcohol
One of the significant symptoms of chronic pain is difficulty in finding sleep. For persons who drink excessively, this condition might worsen.
- Join support groups
These refer to groups of persons who have the disorder or previously had it. It is in such forums that you can gain quality, firsthand information about your condition to help you acquire better management tips for quick recovery.
- Ask for a massage
Body massage works effectively towards relieving pain and personal stresses.
- Avoid smoking
Smoking may only increase heart complications as well as cancer which may result in chronic pain. Avoid tobacco.
Medication for Сhronic Pain
As mentioned previously, chronic pain lacks specific causes. However, a list of possible causatives exists, causing effects which are medically treatable. The best and most common medications used include:
- Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
These comprise of the following:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) includes ibuprofen or naproxen
- Prescription Pain Relievers
- Lidocaine patches
- Anticonvulsants – works as anti-seizure medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Remember some of these medications might have side effects and, therefore, should be used carefully.
Chronic Pain Relief
Alleviating the body of chronic pain may be tricky at times but never impossible. Particular methods that are well approved exist and work effectively in eliminating these pains.
Whether natural or artificial, the pain relief methods should be those with limited side effects.
Health specialists will always offer the best advice for this.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a very treatable condition. Since the disorder lacks exact causatives, the only thing available treatment options does is to curb the signs and symptoms of the illness.
In this case, use of medicines and therapies work considerably well in the treatment procedure for this condition.
Once the diagnosis is complete and the particular pain type found, doctors will prescribe appropriate medication for you.
Pain from cuts, hits or disease conditions are regular occurrences, however, when they become chronic, all the comfort one feels disappears. Chronic pain can affect anyone at any time. The best way to go about it is usually to seek medical care.
Those who suffer from it tend to show signs of general body weakness, mild/severe headaches, lack of appetite which leads to loss of weight, lack of concentration and many other symptoms, including difficulty in obtaining proper sleep. These experiences can last a month or two, or even a year depending on the diagnostic period as well as the time taken by the patient to recover.
Many types of research have come about trying to find out its exact cause in vain. It is one disorder caused by a series of other illness and diseases such as heart attacks, injuries, cancer, and psychology, among many other factors. All this, however, does not yet have full scientific support – thus more research into it is needed.
Those suffering from this illness need to seek early treatment solutions comprising of both medical and therapeutic procedures.