When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much?
We’ve all experienced pain on some level. Maybe it’s a cooking mishap that caused a 1st-degree burn. Or perhaps it’s much more severe, like major surgery.
This kind of pain is called acute pain. And while all of us know what it’s like to experience acute pain, there’s another level of pain—called chronic pain—that only a select few experiences and can be much harder to treat.
What is chronic pain?
You know the kind of pain that is never-ending? It’s persistent, debilitating, and carries on…and on…and on. It’s often stressful and can prevent those who have it from doing the things they love the most. That’s chronic pain.
More than 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. go through life with chronic pain. It lasts longer than three months, often despite treatment or medication. It can limit movement, strength, flexibility, energy, and physical endurance.
There are many reasons why someone may experience chronic pain. It can be caused by a prior injury, a complication to surgery, or may even seem to appear out of nowhere—and for no reason.
Some common types of chronic pain are:
- Back pain
- Cancer pain
- Arthritic pain
- Pain caused by nerve damage
- Postsurgical pain
- Post-trauma pain
What are some long-term effects of chronic pain?
Most people who experience acute pain can heal from an injury in a few days to weeks. Then life resumes back to normal. But when the pain does not go away, it can begin to affect many other aspects of life and can make even the smallest of tasks seem challenging.
Some areas of daily life that chronic pain affects are:
- Mood: Many people experience anxiety, depression, or low mood when dealing with chronic pain. It restricts their ability to live normally, often filling them with a sense of worry or hopelessness.
- Relationships: Because those who experience chronic pain are often limited in their ability to work or go out, it is much harder for them to maintain quality relationships with loved ones. This can affect all relationships, from coworkers to families and close friends. And when relationships are negatively affected, moods are also negatively affected.
- Sleep: 50-89% of those dealing with chronic pain also experience sleep issues. Lack of sleep can be highly frustrating because rest is necessary for healing, but many people cannot get the hours of sleep they need because of the pain.
- Memory and concentration: Chronic pain can affect one’s ability to remember information—ultimately interfering with long-term memory and concentration. A study at the University of Alberta indicated that two-thirds of tested participants with chronic pain showed impaired memory and concentration.
What can you do when chronic pain becomes too much?
Many people try to deal with chronic pain by just suffering through it. They tolerate the side effects and put up with an excess of other health problems because of this. Unfortunately, this can cause overwhelm and exhaustion, feeling like it’s all just too much.
So how do you take care of your chronic pain so that it’s manageable?
Thankfully, there are options. There is a way to cope with chronic pain—starting from the comfort of your home—while still maintaining quality of life.
Here are a few essential starting points to help you feel better:
Physical exercise: this can be one of the best options for managing your pain. Exercise is known to release endorphins, which can improve your mood while blocking signals that you’re in pain. It also has several other positive side effects, such as strengthening your muscles, preventing injury, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving sleep quality.
Mindfulness: Try deep breathing and meditation exercises. They not only help your body to relax, but they help distract you from the pain and instead focus on mindfulness. Incorporate these techniques into your bedtime routine. Relaxing the body before bed helps one sleep better.
Healthy eating habits: A healthy, balanced diet not only fuels your body but can also cure a whole list of health issues. Aim for various healthy foods, such as whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and of course fruits and vegetables. If you use tobacco or drink an excess of alcohol, begin to cut that out of your diet as well.
Non-invasive help: Although these options can all be practiced from home, it’s essential that you also seek resources outside of your home. Get a massage, try out acupuncture, and see an interventional pain management specialist. Thankfully, there are many treatments available that will help you regain your quality of life.
There is hope! And you don’t need to live in constant pain. Begin by making small changes that will manage your stress, help you sleep better, and gain control over your health. Your chronic pain can be treated.
At Accelerated Interventional Orthopedics, we help our patients manage chronic pain—without opioid usage—by finding minimally invasive and non-operative ways to control their pain. Dr. Rich and his team work to uncover the root of your pain while providing a targeted treatment pathway.
Stop the effects of chronic pain and get your life back. Request an appointment today.
- Chronic pain affects only a select few and is much harder to treat than acute pain.
- Chronic pain can be caused by a prior injury, a complication to surgery, or may even seem to appear out of nowhere.
- Chronic pain can have some significant, long-term effects on those living with it.
- There are ways to reduce some of these long-term effects and live a quality life.