Chronic pain comes in many forms and can occur from a variety of circumstances such as traumatic injury, disease and medical afflictions such as migraines, arthritis and other muscular and skeletal conditions. In the past, living with chronic pain was something that most sufferers were resigned to deal with. Advances in medicine however have gotten the upper hand on pain and it can now be easily controlled through medication and treatment.
What is Chronic Pain?
According to many medical sources, chronic pain is defined as frequently recurring severe pain that flares up frequently and does not respond adequately to common over the counter pain relief medications. This type of pain is also categorized as pain that lasts for a period of more than 6 months, is due to non-life threatening conditions and if not treated or controlled, may be experienced for the lifetime of the person suffering.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
There are many factors and conditions that can lead to chronic pain in humans. Some are the results of aging and others may be triggered by injury or congenital circumstances. Some of the more common causes include:
" Injuries that were not properly healed
" Damage to nerves
" Traumatic injuries
" Degenerative bone disease
" Poor posture
" Curvature of the spine
Chronic Pain Relief - What Are The Options?
Most current pain relief approaches involve the use of medications and in some cases, adjustments in lifestyle, physical therapy and even acupuncture. Though over the counter medications can be used to treat some forms of chronic pain, prescription strength options are usually more effective in helping chronic pain sufferers to live pain free. It is always important to consult a physician before taking any prescription pain medication but some of the options that you will likely see include: Carisoprodol (Soma), Butalbital (Fioricet), Celebrex, and Tramadol (Ultram).
Some extreme cases may also involve the use of a patient controlled drip mechanism that provides a continuous supply of pain medication. Others may benefit from Trigger Point Injections which involve delivering pain medication directly to the muscles. Surgical implants and Electric Therapy are also sometimes used (although mostly in extreme cases).
Physical therapy is mainly focused on increasing the body's flexibility and movement in those suffering with chronic pain. This approach is sometimes combined with electrical nerve stimulation which attempts to interfere with the pain signals being sent to the brain for temporary relief during physical therapy.
The Psychological Component of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can have many other effects on you that are completely psychological in nature. Feelings of sadness, despair and anger can have an impact on your personality and affect other areas of your life such as sleep patterns and inducing stress (which may actually make your physical pain worse). Treating the psychological component of chronic pain can be difficult and is usually approached from the standpoint of modifying behavior and activities that trigger physical pain; this, along with education and a support system can be an effective way to treat the psychological aspects of chronic pain.
The approaches mentioned in this article are merely an introduction to this wide and complex topic. It is always best to consult with your doctor prior to engaging any treatment methods for chronic pain. It is only after getting a complete view of the cause that you can find the right treatment program. The main thing to remember is that it is no longer necessary to live with pain and that many treatment options are available. Making that first step towards treatment can be difficult for many but the benefits of a thorough pain management regimen can add significantly to your quality of life.