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Chronic Pain

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Pain is an unpleasant sensation or feeling that is often caused due to an illness, injury or any disorder. The severity of pain can be varied and can last for different amount of time and can affect different parts of our body. When the unpleasant sensation persists over time and increases in severity it can be termed as a chronic pain. Chronic pain can also be a sign of a serious health issue and generally needs active medical attention. 

Chronic pain can severely affects a person’s daily functioning and at time make him completely immobile. Chronic pain can be caused due to various reasons and this makes it very difficult to diagnose and treat. Chronic pain does not have any cure but can be managed. Several problems like headache, back problems, cancer, arthritis, nerve injury, vasculitis, herpes simplex and skin tumors and cysts are known to cause chronic pain.


Symptoms of chronic pain
  • Pain has lasted for more than two months
  • The severity has increased over time
  • Resistant to medical treatment
  • Pain is not the result of an injury 


Causes of chronic pain

Chronic pain is caused due to a number of reasons and that makes it very difficult to detect and zero in on. Some of the more common reasons for chronic pain are musco-skeletal problems like arthritis. Arthritis is caused when the fluid between our joints dry up. There is no cure for arthritis and the chronic pain can only be managed in this case.

Cancer is another problem that causes severe chronic pain. Cancer is when cells in our body grown at rampant pace and without any check. This causes tumors that impair functions of nerves, bones, tissues and muscles and causes pain. Cancer can be cured with processes like chemotherapy and chronic pain caused due to cancer is a rare category that can be treated.

Spondylitis, which is the inflammation of the spine and a type of arthritis, is also known to cause chronic pain. Spondylitis cannot be cured and in such cases medicines and exercise may be the only way to manage the pain. Among all reasons headaches, however, is the most common cause of chronic pain. Headaches are caused due to various problems and may often be complex in nature. Headaches cannot be cured but can be managed for through effective interventions and medicines.

Other problems that cause chronic pain include instances when emotional well being of a person is compromised, resulting in depression. Conditions that affect nerves like diabetic neuropathy can also cause chronic pain. Fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel diseases, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoarthritis, Pancreatitis, Peripheral Vascular Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and tumors in the uterus are some of the problems that cause chronic pain.


of chronic pain

Diagnosis for chronic pain primarily revolves around finding the problem or the issue causing the pain. It generally begins with a careful study of the patient’s medical history, advent of any disease, history of any injury and the symptoms associated with the pain. A doctor would want to conduct a careful physical examination of the patient. Based on this a doctor may order various imaging or pathological tests. In some cases tests may also be invasive in nature. 

Pathological tests include blood and urine tests, while imaging tests include x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan amongst others. Sometimes invasive methods like a spinal tap or biopsy maybe used to determine different infections and cases of cancer. When pain is caused due to issues with the nerve, tests electromyography (EMG)

Treatment of chronic pain

Treatment against chronic pain revolves around lessening the severity of the pain and keeping the symptoms at bay. In some cases treating the underlying disease can also help contain the pain. The mainstay of every treatment is pain killers or analgesic medications. Often called Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), variant like ibuprofen and naproxen can provide relief. Similarly doctors often prescribe acetaminophen or paracetamol to treat cases of chronic pain. Aspirin is another over the counter medicine that is often effective in pain management. In cases of severe chronic pain a doctor may prescribe narcotics such as morphine and codeine. 

The age old Chinese tradition of Acupuncture can also prove to be very effective in treating chronic pain, especially when it is cause due to problem with the nerve. Similarly anticonvulsant medications are also helpful when it comes to chronic pain caused by problems with nerves. When chronic pain is caused due to depression a doctor may prescribe anti-depressants to ease pain.

Specialized techniques involve processes like Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and also biofeedback. To relieve pain when it comes to cancer, a procedure like chemotherapy is mainstay of treatment. In certain cases to treat cases of back problems, musculoskeletal injuries or need to release a blocked nerve, a surgery may be performed.

Exercise can also be an effective way to treat chronic pain. Exercises that are known to strengthen muscles and loosen stressed joints can be a good way to find relief. Similarly massage therapy, relaxation and behavior modification therapy, meditation, and changes in our posture can also go a long way in managing chronic pain.


Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: November 05, 2013

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