A Guide to Chronic Pain
Living with Chronic Pain
Chronic pain - millions of Americans suffer from it, that severe or mild, all-the-time or some-of-the-time, debilitating or annoying feeling in your head or joints or almost anywhere in your body. For some people, it may start with an accident that strains the back or an infection in the arm. For others, it happens even if there is no past injury or disease. Many older people are affected. They suffer from headaches and back pain, sinus pain, or constant aches in the back, arms, or legs. These sensations can last for years or longer and often affect the emotions as much as the physical organs.
Chronic Pain Symptoms
People with chronic pain may suffer from one, some, or all of these symptoms:
- Burning, aching, or stabbing pain in various parts of the body that may not go away away
- Soreness or stiffness
- Mood changes such as depression or anxiety
- Lack of sleep
What can be done for chronic pain that has no known cause? The treatment for chronic pain management is often difficult. Each chronic pain patient may react differently, and treating such a patient is very different than prescribing medication for an infection or a broken arm. There is no blood test for chronic pain, for instance, as there is to study the extent of an infection and no x-ray technique as there is to study a broken arm. No medical instrument can measure the levels of chronic pain.
To ease chronic pain, doctors may recommend good nutrition and mild exercise. In addition, there are different techniques that might be used in an effort to relieve the pain symptoms. They can include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs sold OTC (over the counter), which can be effective for some bone and muscular pain
- Anti-seizure medications that are often effective for burning type pain
- Muscle relaxants, often used to control muscle spasms, although they can produce drowsiness
- Opioids, which are sometimes recommended for pain that continues both day and night
Acupuncture and local electrical stimulation are sometimes recommended to treat chronic pain. In some people who endure nearly endless pain from this condition, a placebo may be prescribed. This harmless medicine is given to produce psychological healing rather than for any medicinal affect.