You banged your knee on the corner of the kitchen table, but the pain went away, eventually. That was acute pain, specific and with a known cause. But what about your lower back pain that’s haunted you for years? What caused it? These are the enduring mysteries of chronic pain.
What is Chronic Pain?
Pain is different for everyone, but there are two kinds of physical pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain signals that your body is injured. It normally doesn’t last long and should subside as your body heals. Chronic pain is continual and may last months or even years. “Chronic pain may interfere with your daily activities. And because the pain lasts so long, people who have chronic pain may also have low self-esteem, depression, and anger.”
The Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain symptoms include moderate to severe pain that does not subside as expected following an illness or injury. It has been described as aching, burning, electrical, or shooting. You may experience soreness, tightness, or stiffness in the impacted area of your body. While chronic pain symptoms and their physical and psychological effects can be daunting, research has proven the efficacy of certain new treatments, including the regular, ongoing use of ketamine therapy.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Occasionally chronic pain has a clear cause. You could have a long-term illness such as cancer or arthritis that can trigger ongoing pain. But diseases and injuries can also produce changes to the body that instill a higher pain sensitivity. These differences can remain in place even when you’ve healed from the original disease or injury. So, an injury like a sprain, broken bone, or a short-term infection can leave you experiencing chronic pain.
Some people also experience chronic pain unrelated to a physical illness or an injury. Healthcare providers deem this reaction psychosomatic pain or psychogenic pain.
What Does it Feel Like to Have Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is real and different for everyone it touches. Some people plow through the pain, determined to get out of bed every morning and do what needs to be done – go to work, get the kids ready for school, volunteer at the local food bank. Unfortunately, the pain is so uncomfortable and pervasive for some people that it’s eaten away at their resolve and eventually controls their lives.
If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, you know the emotions and reactions it stirs up too well. Chronic pain is inexplicably linked to what goes on in the brain and triggers reactions throughout your body and mind you may not be prepared to handle.
Kristen Domonell has a unique perspective on what chronic pain feels like, noting that “getting up in the morning is no joke.” She also relayed the presence of odd or bad dreams, often of little things in her life which you may be able to relate to, like seams in an article of clothing.
In a post vetted by Dr. Sarah Jarvis MBE, author Sarah Graham relayed the feelings that many people experience due to chronic pain. One person described the pain as “bolts of electricity” through their bones. Another mentioned that chronic pain resulted in insensitivity to the point where their skin felt on fire.
Managing symptoms and the feelings they cause is a matter of determination and resolve to live as normal of a life as possible.
Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, and providing as much information as possible will assist in finding the right treatment. Be honest about where the pain is, its severity, and frequency. Also, describe what makes it better or worse. Your doctor will perform an exam and do tests to help find the cause. Other health problems will be discussed – as well as anxiety, mood, sleep patterns – which could influence treatment options.
Tips for Managing Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to a doctor about treatment options. There are other ways to cope with the pain on your own, however, including:
- Stretching exercises
- Practicing good posture
- Staying active and maintaining a daily routine
- Reduce stress with relaxation techniques
- Don’t do more than you can handle
- Take care of other mental or medical conditions
- Stay positive
- Stay engaged with others
Chronic pain, while serious, can be managed with novel medications like ketamine.
Chronic pain affects all aspects of your life. The most effective treatment relieves symptoms and offers support. You may be able to manage the pain at home with store-bought pain relievers, but the pain could require therapy, prescription medication, or even surgery. One treatment worth learning about is ketamine therapy. Contact us today to learn more!