You severely broke your wrist, had surgery to repair the damage, and recovered long ago – or so you thought. Now, years later and without signs of another injury, you still have a dull but persistent pain. In this case, you may be suffering from chronic pain, but treatment is available.
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. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
There could be an initial mishap, but chronic pain sometimes occurs without past injury or evidence of bodily harm.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Sometimes you know what’s causing your chronic pain. You could have a long-term illness such as cancer or arthritis leading to ongoing pain symptoms. It’s also important to remember that injuries and diseases can make you more sensitive to pain, susceptible long after you’ve healed from the original disease or injury. Something like a muscle sprain, a broken bone, pain from a surgical procedure, or a brief infection can leave you experiencing chronic pain symptoms.
What to Know About Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is one of America’s most costly health problems. Ballooning medical expenses, lost income, gaps in productivity, compensation and insurance claims, and legal challenges are some of the economic consequences of chronic pain. Consider the following:
- Lower back pain is one of the most substantial health issues. Back pain is a widespread cause of activity restrictions in adults.
- People with advanced cancer often experience chronic pain.
- Arthritis pain harms more than 50 million Americans every year.
- Headaches are another kind of chronic pain affecting millions of U.S. adults. Common types of chronic headaches are cluster headaches, migraines, and tension headaches.
- What other disorders cause chronic pain? Neuralgias and neuropathies, which affect nerves in the body, pain as a result of damage to the brain and spinal cord, as well as pain without signs of a physical cause, like psychogenic pain, boost the total number of reported cases in the U.S.
According to experts with Stanford Health Care, “Common symptoms of chronic pain include mild to very bad pain that does not go away as expected after an illness or injury. It may be shooting, burning, aching, or electrical. You may also feel sore, tight, or stiff in the affected area.”
Who Does it Affect?
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates the prevalence of chronic pain varies from 11 to 40 percent. A 2016 study showed that about 20 percent of the U.S. had chronic pain, especially among adults living in poverty, adults with public health coverage, and adults without a high school certificate of completion.
People 45- to 64-years-old are most affected by chronic pain, including more females than males.
A doctor will ask about your chronic pain, the severity, where it occurs, your stress level, and other relevant information. The pain may be diagnosed using blood tests, imaging tests, balance and reflex tests, urine tests, spinal fluid tests, and many others to help determine the cause of your pain.
How is Chronic Pain Treated?
There isn’t a single way to treat chronic pain, as pain is often subjective and affects everyone differently. If you don’t want to see a doctor, or can’t afford the expense, store-bought items and devices may help, like topical ointments, essential oil diffusers, foam rollers, and eye patches.
“Medications, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, and brain stimulation, as well as surgery, are some treatments for chronic pain. Some physicians use placebos, which in some cases has resulted in a lessening or elimination of pain. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic pain.”
Ketamine Therapy for Chronic Pain
Ketamine is a powerful treatment used primarily for anesthesia in human and veterinary medicine, but research has also shown it may relieve symptoms of chronic pain and mental illness. Ketamine is thought to work by strengthening weakened neurotransmitters in the brain vital to pain perception.
Chronic pain affects millions of adults in the U.S. and can linger for months or years, seriously diminishing your quality of life if the symptoms are left untreated. Thankfully, new and innovative forms of treatment work, including ketamine therapy, which may work even when other medicines or chronic pain treatments have failed.