What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain can be defined as any pain that persists for 3 months or longer and while not necessarily maladaptive, it often leads to physical decline, limited functional ability and emotional distress. Chronic pain differs from acute pain, a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, as chronic pain persists and may arise from an initial injury such as a back sprain or an ongoing cause such as illness. However, there may also be no clear cause. Other health problems such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, decreased appetite, and mood changes often accompany chronic pain. Chronic pain may limit a person’s movements, which can reduce flexibility, strength, and stamina. This difficulty in carrying out important and enjoyable activities can lead to disability and despair. When pain persists in spite of medical treatment, as is the case in chronic pain syndromes, the issues become even more complex.
What can happen if Chronic Pain is not diagnosed?
The problem is that matters get worse not solely due to progression of the disease (the pathology in the tissues) but to the vicious circle patients find themselves in. A person who has pain, especially on movement, tends to avoid doing things that provoke their symptoms. They rest but unfortunately this is not a helpful treatment as it leads to secondary stiffness and weakness, causing worsening of the symptom that the individual is trying to avoid.
How should Chronic Pain be treated?
Pain should not be thought of as the same for all patients. Cognitive behavioral approaches made to address the source of your pain combined with physical therapy can improve the way you manage and cope with your pain. The approach is very much related to problem solving and returning control to the sufferer. Many patients state that the pain rules their lives and cannot see how this can change without a medical cure. However, with appropriate instruction in a range of pacing techniques, cognitive therapy to help identify negative thinking patterns and the development of effective challenges, stretching and exercising to improve physical function, careful planning of tasks and daily activities, and the judicious use of relaxation training, many people find that treatment enables them to take back control of their lives, to do more and feel better.