Every person experiences occasional aches and pains. Unexpected pain is an important feedback of the nervous system that helps you to potential injury. If an injury befalls, the pain signal goes through the affected part up towards your spinal cord and your brain.
Chronic Pain is different from typical pain. Your body continues to send pain signals to your brain with chronic pain even after an injury heals. Chronic Pain can limit your mobility and lessen your strength, flexibility, and endurance. This may make it challenging to get through daily tasks and activities.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Occasionally, Chronic Pain may start without any noticeable cause. For several people, it begins after an injury or certain health conditions. Some of the leading causes include:
- Back problems
- Past surgeries or injuries
- Migraines and other headaches
- Nerve damage
- Fibromyalgia (a muscle pain that feels throughout the body)
Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain can range from mild to severe which may continue day after day or come and go. The pain can feel like:
- A dull ache
If you are experiencing chronic pain, the stress may affect the body which produces physical conditions such as:
- Limited ability to move around
- Tense muscles
- Changes in appetite
- A lack of energy
Chronic pain also causes emotional effects such as:
- Fear of re-injury (fear that can limit your capability to return to leisure activities or work)
Symptoms vary from the pain you may be experiencing. Your healthcare provider will work with you to find safe and effective pain relief based on the symptoms you have.
Risk Factors of Chronic Pain
There are three major categories of risk factors for chronic pain:
Physical Risk Factor
- Genetics: Migraines have been linked to genetics. Studies found that genetic conditions can make you more sensitive to pain and needs more chronic pain management.
- Old age: As people grow older, they tend to require more ways to manage pain.
- Obesity: An extra weight often develops chronic pain due to poor health. Being obese can exacerbate medical conditions that require pain management.
- Previous injury: There is a greater risk for future chronic pain in people who have recovered from a traumatic injury.
Psychological Risk Factors
- Mood disorder: Anxiety and depression have a greater risk for chronic pain. Various neurotransmitters and brain areas that handle pain signs also manage mood.
- Childhood trauma: Childhood factors play a large role in later developing this type of pain. Those who experienced parental neglect or physical or sexual abuse as children are more likely to have chronic pain.
Lifestyle Risk Factors
- Stress: Chronic pain has been linked to both chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Having a high-risk job: People with jobs that need heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity are at greater risk for developing chronic pain.
- Smoking: Smokers are at greater risk for developing medical conditions that lead to the need for chronic pain management.
Treating Chronic Pain
Knowing that chronic pain is a problem is the first step in finding treatment. Start by talking to your doctor about the symptoms of chronic pain. Together you can recognize the cause of the pain and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that takes into account your lifestyle and overall health. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are often used to manage pain. Conversely, for several people, a combination of treatments is most effective. Medications may be combined with:
- Physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Relaxation techniques
Medications for Chronic Pain
Several types of medications are available that can help treat choric pain:
Non-prescription Pain Relievers
Opioid Pain Relievers