Are You Living With Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain affects some 80 million Americans and, following cancer and heart disease, is the third leading cause of physical impairment in the United States.  Coping with chronic pain can sometimes be the hardest part for people because it’s not well understood by the medical field or the general public. It can be very isolating and very socially degrading for people. People can appear quite well and still have several chronic pain issues. Studies have shown that approximately 20 to 30 per cent of the population is living with chronic pain. Some of those people never get help.

What Is Chronic Pain?

While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists despite the fact that an injury has healed. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Sometimes these fears can lead to more isolation, deepening depression and increased financial problems.  Common chronic pain complaints include:

  • Headache
  • Low back pain
  • Cancer pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to nerves)
  • Psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside)

There may have been an initial mishap — sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.

What Is Acute Pain?

Chronic vs. Acute Pain

Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain may be caused by many events or circumstances, including:

  • Surgery
  • Broken bones
  • Dental work
  • Burns or cuts
  • Labor and childbirth
  • Touching a hot stove
  • Smashing a finger with a hammer

Acute pain may be mild and last just a moment, or it may be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, may lead to chronic pain.

Who Does Chronic Pain Affect?

If not treated, pain can have a significant impact on the pain sufferer and their family. Without treatment, pain can have a significant impact on the pain sufferer and their entire family. Chronic pain affects people of all ages, races, and occupations. Severe chronic pain is a devastating health problem that affects as many as one in ten Americans (more than 25 million people).

Chronic pain disables more people than cancer or heart disease. It costs the U.S. economy more than $90 billion per year in medical costs, disability payments, and productivity. Yet it has received little attention from medical researchers until recently and is one of the most under funded major health problems in the United States.

For every person seeking relief from chronic pain, others are inevitably affected: husbands and wives, parents and children, friends, employers and co-workers. Chronic pain can interfere with every aspect of a person’s life: work, relationships, self-esteem, and emotional well-being.

Chronic pain brings a burden of depression, anxiety, frustration, fatigue, isolation, and lowered self-esteem. Pain makes it hard to work, hard to play, hard to get support from others, and hard to live a happy life. Chronic pain can shatter productive lives.

Pain is the most common reason why people come to the chiropractor. Whether it’s intense throbbing from a migraine or constantly aching joints from arthritis, we all want the pain to go away — and fast!  Sometimes pain is a temporary condition that will go away on its own (like after a minor injury or after surgery). But sometimes the pain is an indicator of something more serious, and it won’t get better until it’s treated. It is important that you get it diagnosed correctly. A chiropractor will advise you on available treatment options for pain management because it is important that you receive all the information you need about potential treatments. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic pain.