What is chronic pain? As opposed to acute pain sensations, chronic pain persists for very long periods after an injury. Here, the pain signals keep firing in the nervous systems for weeks and sometimes, even months or years. Such pain usually occurs after an initial injury or due to some form of ongoing infection or disease (like arthritis or cancer). In some people, such pain may also occur in the absence of any evident body damage.Common Chronic Pain Complaints: Some of the most common forms of chronic pain experienced by people are:
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Cancer pain
- Low back pain
- Neurogenic pain (pain occurring due to central nervous system or peripheral nervous system injury) - Headache or migraine
- Temperomandibular Joint Disorder
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Treatment of chronic pain:
Chronic pain management is mainly aimed at enabling a person to lead as normal a daily life as possible. The treatment goal is to enable the development of self-management skills and a healthy lifestyle.
It is vital to have a multi-disciplinary team approach for addressing the psychological as well as physical factors while treating chronic pain.
One of the best ways to deal with severe, chronic pain is by using long-acting opioid to keep the pain under control at all times and short-acting opioids for dealing with those moments when the pain breaks through. Although such medications are used to cure the symptoms, one should always keep in mind that they are not the sole focus of treatment and hence, should always be used with other treatment modes.
An important factor to keep in mind while using drugs like opioids is that they may have strong side-effects in some people, like depression,nausea, constipation and breathing problems. Besides this, these drugs can also lead to addiction when used on a long-term basis.
Some even make use of psychotherapy and relaxation techniques for lessening or eliminating the pain. Apart from this, certain procedures like acupuncture, local electrical and brain stimulation are also employed by some for treating and providing placebo effect.
A new mode of treatment, known as facet joint denervation, involves passing radio-waves through needles inserted via the skin. This heats the tissues at the tip of the joints and inactivates nerves in the joints to enable free movements.
(Sources: Institute for Clinical Symptoms Improvement, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, American Academy of Pain Management)
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