An ongoing severe pain that lasts for over six months or minimum of twelve weeks is known as chronic pain. When our body gets hurt, our nervous system causes sudden pain as a reaction to alert us. When the injury starts healing, the pain subsides slowly. However, in case of chronic pain, we keep feeling the pain even though the injury has healed. This happens as our body keeps sending signals to our brain and this can last for years or several weeks. Chronic pain can reduce our body strength, flexibility, endurance and can also limit our body’s mobility. The pain can be dull, burning or sharp causing an aching sensation in the affected area. Chronic pain can also be caused without any damage to the body or injury.
The common condition causing chronic pain includes:
- Postsurgical pain
- Nerve pain
- Fibromyalgia pain
- Post-trauma pain
Difference between Acute and Chronic Pain
Acute pain is mild and shorter in duration or lasts for a moment whereas chronic pain is persistent and lasts for minimum of twelve weeks. Acute pain is related to damage of soft tissues in our body like sprained ankle or cut. It resolves once the injury is healed.
Treatment of Chronic Pain
The major goal towards treatment of chronic pain is to reduce the pain and boost mobility of the body. Depending on the severity and the kind of pain the doctor might advise certain medications and exercise so that you can be comfortable doing the daily activities.
Medication: Several over the counter medicines like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be prescribed. Other medications include- opioid pain relievers and adjuvant analgesics.
Exercise and Lifestyle Changes: The doctor or therapist can also recommend- physical therapy, yoga, massage, psychotherapy, meditation or art and music therapy. Lifestyle changes is must towards eliminating chronic pain.
Medical Procedures: The doctor may also recommend certain medical procedures to reduce the pain, like-
- Electrical stimulation: The process involves application of mild electric shock to the affected area to relax the muscles.
- Nerve Block: In this procedure an injection is administered to block the signals sent by the nervous system to the brain, which causes pain.
- Acupuncture: A procedure to lightly prick the skin with needles to reduce pain and relax muscles.
- Surgery: To fix the affected area causes pain due to improper healing or any other factor causing pain.
How to deal with Chronic Pain
Maintain proper care: Eat a balanced diet and maintain your weight according to your height.
Exercise Regularly: Take part in physical activities or exercise daily to boost your body’s mobility.
Pace Yourself: Don’t be hard on yourself by pushing the pain. In case of pain, stop before it gets worse and take rest. Relax your body to alleviate stress.
Seek Support: Talk to your family and friends when you are mentally broke because of the pain or you are having difficulty doing the daily task. Do things that you enjoy to boost your spirit.