Pain is typically thought of as a symptom, but increasingly, medical practitioners have started to view chronic pain as a separate disorder. Despite affecting more than 42 million Americans, the medical establishment still doesn’t fully comprehend it. This is partially due to how varied the causes and levels of intensity are.
WHAT DOES CHRONIC PAIN MEAN?
Chronic pain is described as discomfort that lasts for more than a few months (often 3 to 6 months, but longer than “normal recovery”) . It’s a pretty prevalent issue. According to the National Health Interview Survey findings,
- In 2019, 20.4% of individuals reported having chronic pain, and 7.4% of adults reported having high-impact chronic pain—chronic pain that often hindered life or job activities—in the previous three months.
- Age-related increases in both chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain were seen, with those 65 and older having the greatest rates.
- Compared to non-Hispanic black (19.3%), non-Hispanic Hispanic (13.0%), and non-Hispanic Asian (6.8%) individuals, non-Hispanic white adults (23.6%) had a higher prevalence of chronic pain.
- As a place of residency became more rural, the percentage of adults with chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain rose.
WHY DOES CHRONIC PAIN OCCUR?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple response to this query. Several medical problems can cause chronic pain, including :
- Multiple sclerosis
- Back pain
- Autoimmune conditions like fibromyalgia
- Nerve injury
Some of these factors, such as nerve damage or back injuries, are one-time accidents that develop into lifelong medical conditions. Others have a hereditary component, including autoimmune illnesses. Other disorders, like depression, are psychological illnesses with physical side effects.
WHAT FORMATS OF CHRONIC PAIN ARE THERE?
Because different types of pain require different treatments, determining the origin of chronic pain is crucial to its management. For instance, opioids work better to relieve nerve pain than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs).
Although the reasons are different, the systems that are impacted are generally the same :
- Muscles and the nervous system
- Conjunctive tissues (ligaments, joints, etc.)
- The systems impacted by pain are taken into account in the therapeutic strategies used by doctors
THE DIAGNOSIS OF CHRONIC PAIN
If a pain episode lasts more than three months or comes and goes (recurs), it is regarded as chronic. In most cases, pain is a symptom, thus if, at all possible, your healthcare provider should ascertain the source of your discomfort. Providers may find it challenging to pinpoint the origin of pain because it is subjective and only the person experiencing it can recognize and express it.
Consult your healthcare professional if you have persistent pain. Your provider will inquire as to :
- Where you are hurting.
- On a scale of 0–10, how intense it is
- The frequency of occurrence?
- How much has it had an impact on both your life and your job?
- Why does it get better or worse?
- Whether your life is filled with a lot of tension or anxiety.
- Whether you’ve experienced any ailments or operations.
MANAGEMENT OF CHRONIC PAIN
In order to manage chronic pain, healthcare professionals first look for its underlying causes and address them. They occasionally, however, are unable to identify the source. If so, they concentrate on managing or treating the discomfort.
Healthcare professionals use a variety of approaches to address chronic pain. The strategy is based on a variety of variables, such as :
- The nature of your pain
- The origin of your pain, if it is known
- Age and general health
The good news is that patients can reclaim their lives with the use of pain management strategies. This covers both modern and antiquated techniques, such as medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as practices from long ago, like acupuncture and massage.