Living With Chronic Pain Is Not Easy
Chronic pain is not like other medical issues it cannot be seen or measured, and there is no set protocol to “make it better.” The unique and complicated factors that characterize chronic pain make it difficult to communicate what you are going through. Chronic pain affects more people than cancer, diabetes, heart attack and stroke combined. The Institute of Medicine estimates there are more than 100 million sufferers in the United States, costing the nation as much as $635 billion a year in medical treatment and lost productivity
Chronic pain is generally defined as any pain that continues more than 3 to 6 months. Please note that this discussion is specifically focused on chronic pain that is not due to cancer or other disease process. This type of pain is also termed “chronic non-cancer pain” or chronic benign pain
Just about everyone feels pain from time to time. When you cut your finger or pull a muscle, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Once the injury heals, you stop hurting.
Chronic pain is different. Your body keeps hurting weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Doctors often define chronic pain as any pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months or more.
Chronic pain can have real effects on your day-to-day life and your mental health. But you and your doctor can work together to treat it.
Sometimes chronic pain can begin without any obvious cause. But for many people, it starts after an injury or because of a health condition. Some of the leading causes include:
- Past injuries or surgeries
- Back problems
- Migraines and other headaches
- Nerve damage
- Fibromyalgia, a condition in which people feel muscle pain throughout their bodies
Getting Help for Chronic Pain
Pain is an important way in which the body communicates. Ignoring pain can delay diagnosis and treatment and exacerbate the problem. Moreover, ignoring pain can needlessly extend the physical discomfort. A physician can help determine the source of pain, the seriousness of the condition, and a course of treatment. In some cases, it is necessary to seek help from a pain specialist to specifically address the sensation of pain.
Listen to what the doctor has to say first.” Then, if you’re not satisfied, press harder. But remember that the most important thing is to create a relationship with your doctor in which you’re a team, both looking for the best way to alleviate your pain. After he or she has assessed your needs, you can consider seeing a pain specialist.