Estimates show that in America alone, over one hundred million people are victims of chronic pain. The definition used is pain that one has to endure for a period of over six months. The pain normally comes with different intensity where at times it can be mild, at times excruciating and at some moments it can get to the extent of incapacitating. What most victims say is that the pain is normally felt in the nervous system and it can at times persist for several months or even take a longer period. The effects of such pain are that it cause a lot of emotional pain on the victims.
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Chronic pain does differ from acute pain in that for acute pain; one only gets their sensation triggered by a pain in their nervous system as a way of alerting them that they need to take care of that pain. On the contrary, chronic pain is normally sharp and it keeps on firing within the nervous system for longer period of let us say several months or even years (Institute of Neurological Disorders and stroke).
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In some cases, chronic pain may be caused by the victims having suffered some injuries in the past, for example a back injury or even arthritis and cancer. However, there are also other instances when one suffers chronic pain without having undergone any past injuries. What remains for a fact are that most of the times, those who suffer chronic pain are the older ones in the society. That fact may due to the fact that young people are normally active and thus have limited chances of suffering such pain. Some of the most common complaints of chronic pain include back ache, cancer pain or even the pain felt when the nervous system is damaged. Additionally, cancer and low back ache are also part of the larger groups of pains that one might experience.
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There are also rare cases when one feels pain without getting injuries on any part of the body, be it internal or external injuries. That kind of pain is referred to as psychogenic pain.
. There is also a category of people who get to suffer more than one chronic pain at the same time for instance they might suffer from fatigue syndrome and interstitial crisis at the same time. It has however, not been established whether such pain ar caused by the same factors
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There are several types of chronic pain that exist today and they include tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome as well as sinus pain. There are also other types of chronic pain that affect various parts of the body like neck, pelvis and the human shoulders. Generally, one can suffer from either nerve or muscle pain which can in the long run develop to become chronic.
The nerve fibers normally get trained so that they transmit the painful impulses directly to the brains. If the causes of such pain do not get treated at the onset, they normally develop to become worse in the long run. The analogy used is the same as that which happens to sports men who develop strong muscles as a result of intensive training. With time, the nerves also become more effective in sending signals to the central nervous system in the brain. If they pain is not subsided, then the intensity increases beyond what is needed to trigger the attention of the pain bearer. With time, the brain learns to become much more sensitive to the pain making the pain to worsen even without the injury worsening.
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Symptoms of Chronic Pain
As had earlier been mentioned, chronic pain may at times be caused by internal injuries within the body, for instance back pain. If that is not the case, then one might suffer chronic pain due to an ongoing illness within them. It is also possible that people can suffer from chronic pain without any possible cause; however, such cases are rare to come across.
When someone is under chronic pain, they are most likely to exhibit fatigue and a lot of disturbance in their sleeping patterns (Pain management Health Center). Additionally, the victims normally lose their eating appetites and they may therefore go for a number of days without eating. The end result is that the victims may lose some pounds of their weight. There are also those people who develop changes in their moods when they undergo chronic pain.
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It is known that people who suffer chronic pain may at times have limitations in terms of their movements thereby making them less flexible. Lack of frequent movements also results in a reduction of energy for the victims because they spend most of their time resting at a single spot. If one is kept away from conducting and engaging in such enjoyable activities, it is possible that in the long run they may become disabled.
Chronic Pain Diagnosis
Diagnosis for chronic pain cane be done but bit must be remembered that there is no standard way of determining the exact pain that is felt by someone. In most cases, the health providers depend on what the patients themselves tell them in order to gauge what kind of pain the patients are going through. Additionally, the practitioners can locate the exact spot where the spot is coming from based on the descriptions give to them by the victims. For instance, a patient might describe as the pain as either burning or aching to mean that it is severe pain.
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The pain description van also be that it is either sharp or dull pain to imply that the pain can either be intense or just mild. Others may also give descriptions that their pain is an on and off scenario. Out of the descriptions given by the patients, it becomes possible for the health practitioners to tell the causes of such pain (National Institute of Health). All the above mentioned descriptions are what forms part of the medical history that has to be taken by the practitioners before embarking on the treatment process for their patients. Medical history of the patients is important because it gives te practitioners knowledge of the past experiences that the patients have gone through ad it therefore becomes easy to give the correct prescriptions based on the historical information.
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In most cases, chronic pain does not only occur in one part of the body but in various parts. It is therefore important that the patient together with their medical practitioners to take time in order to determine the possible causes as well as the symptoms. Once the symptoms and the causes of the pain have been determined, it becomes for the treatment process to be initiated with utmost accuracy in the treatment process. It is only through the treatment process that the pain suffered by the victims can be relieved.
The use of modern technology can also be embraced in the treatment of chronic pain but then that will also depend on the type of chronic pain that is felt by the patients. In as much we may want to rely on technology to solve the chronic problems, it is important that inputs from medical practitioners also play a part in the whole process. Moreover, the practitioners must be those who have undergone certified training in dealing with chronic pain. Finally, the relatives to the patients must also take part in the treatment process by offering financial and moral support to the victims.
Types of chronic pain
Chronic pain can be divided in to two categories. The first category refers to chronic pain that is caused by a pain generator that can be identifiable for instance an internal injury suffered by an individual. The other type of chronic pain is that which is caused by no specific identifiable cause. In such cases it normally happens that the chronic injury that initially present gets healed but the chronic pain still persists.
Pain caused by identifiable pain generator
This type of pain normally occurs in a human body but through proper diagnosis done by professional practitioners; its cause can always be established. For instance, pain caused by structural spine conditions can always be identified and such pain treated successfully. Reason behind is that the causes of such pain are normally caused by factors that can be diagnosed and thereby making their treatment possible. If the pain that is caused by the above mentioned conditions do not subside after a few weeks, then the next option that may considered is to conduct spine surgery. The option should however be used as a last resort only if the other available options fail to work out because it can further lead to much complicated scenarios.
This type of chronic pain normally occurs when there is a damage that has been done on the nerve system. One important factor to know is that the nerves are what connect the spinal cord of a human being to other parts of the body. Moreover, it is through the nerves that the brain gets to communicate with other parts such as the skin and muscles. The brain also makes communications and coordination with other parts of the body through the nerves.
Some of the possible cause of nerve damage includes excessive consumption of alcohol, high levels of toxins found within the body and other forms of infections that can occur in a human body. In some instances, neuropathic pain can be caused by the cancer tumor that presses on the nerves as they grow within the human body. Medical practitioners have always found it difficult in treating neuropathic pain because it is difficult to establish the exact areas of the nerves that have been damaged. Additionally, it is difficult to know the extent to which the nerves have been damaged. Since it is difficult establishing how the nerve system is damaged, it equally becomes challenging in coming up with a possible treatment procedure.
Lists of communities and people that deal with chronic pain
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- Mental health professionals
- Pain management specialists
- Primary care doctors
- Family and friends
- Other members of the community who also suffer from chronic pain