Part 1 of 2 Do you know that a large proportion of our population stays silent during chronic pain? www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2020/07/07/2058790/0/e... conducted a survey about pain management that revealed unexpected results. According to the survey, 88% of U.S. residents have a history of chronic pain (neck/back/knee), but only 76% have sought medical treatment for their pain.
Another survey was carried out by a global market research firm that showed consumer behavior. It examined the behavior of adults regarding pain thresholds and pain management. As per the results, Americans prefer not to seek medical treatment till the pain becomes unbearable. They needlessly suffer in silence.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for several months. Chronic pain can have multiple sources or underlying causes, like arthritis or cancer. The period is not defined for chronic pain. It may take months or years to heal. Having chronic pain can interfere with your daily routine as it affects your ability to work.
According to a www.nccih.nih.gov/health/chronic-pain-what-you-need-to-know (NHIS) regarding chronic pain cases in the United States:
20.4% of adults reported chronic pain that remained for most days for 3 months
7.4% of adults reported extreme chronic pain that remained for most days for 3 months and restricted their daily chores and work activities
Chronic pain is different from acute pain. Acute pain occurs when you experience short-term injuries like skin cuts or fractures. Chronic pain, on the other hand, exceeds the time of recovery from an injury.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Some causes of chronic pain are obvious, which may include long-lasting illnesses like arthritis and cancer.
Some diseases and injuries trigger changes in the body and increase its pain sensitivity. Even after the body heals from the injury, these changes may remain and cause chronic pain. For example, a sprain, or a fracture.
Some causes of chronic pain are not physical and rather mental. Such issues are known as psychogenic or psychosomatic pain. This pain is caused by psychological factors like anxiety, stress, and depression. As a positive emotional state is linked with endorphin level, scientists believe that this condition is a reason for the low production of endorphins in the body.
Chronic pain can also be a result of the overlapping of multiple causes. For example, more than one disease, or a physical injury combined with psychogenic pain.
Symptoms of Chronic Pain
The symptoms of chronic pain include mild to extreme pain. The pain varies for every person, depending on the condition and body response. Chronic pain is commonly defined by people as:
Prolonged chronic pain, especially when left untreated, can give rise to other health issues or symptoms, like:
How does Chronic Pain Affects you?
In the United States, over a quarter of citizens end up in outpatient clinics with complaints of chronic pain. Failed management of chronic pain can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Chronic pain can create several complications including:
Chronic pain can increase the dependence of an individual on others. This situation has a highly-negative impact on a person’s mental health.
The difficulty in carrying out daily activities due to chronic pain can decrease the quality of life.
For some individuals, chronic pains often result in a mental disorder known as #SubstanceUseDisorders (SUD). This condition affects an individual’s brain and increases their reliance on legal or illegal drugs, medications, or alcohol.
It may worsen the existing chronic disease.
Untreated chronic pains increase the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
Complications caused by chronic pain are often very serious. Thus, chronic pains should be treated at the earliest.
The Diagnosis of Chronic Pain
Chronic pains can be investigated by examining the body physically and internally. As pain is subjective, it varies from person to person that how he/she identifies and describes the pain they are experiencing. Firstly, the healthcare provider tries to point out the source of the pain. Then, the healthcare provider requires the results of several tests to diagnose chronic pain in the patient.
To diagnose chronic pain, the following tests may be required:
Reflex and balance tests
Imaging tests, such as MRI and X-rays
Nerve conduction tests
Spinal fluid tests