What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than six months since its onset, and does not cease. The intensity of the pain may increase or reduce but the pain is always there. Most times, ordinary pain medications prove ineffective on these kinds of conditions. The time period is set at six months because this is the time expected for even major injuries to have started healing and should not be causing as much pain.
It should be noted that apart from headaches, most chronic pain is as a result of an ailment or injury of some sort. The pain is rarely the end disease but rather the indication that something is terribly wrong somewhere in your body. There are however people who may suffer from ongoing pain with no evidence of physical problem and this pain is generated in the mind.
The pain can materialize as sharp, burning, itchy, soreness, tightness, aching, shooting or electrical feeling. Whatever the case, the pain is said to be more intense in the night when the body relaxes and the defenses are down. This kind of pain can make it impossible for someone to live a normal life and may even result into further complications such as drug addictions to the pain medications.
Continuous pain is in different categories and these are:
Headaches: These are usually known to be long enduring and can be migraines or symptomatic of some other problem. Cluster headaches and tension headaches are the ordinary kind we suffer from every now and then. They tend to come and go and are more severe in some people than others. Migraines, on the other hand, make the sufferer unable to perform any other function and are like a chronic disease that may or may never heal.
Headaches also may be caused by a brain tumor, sinusitis, giant cell arteritis, trigeminal neuralgia, or a simple fever. You should talk to your doctor and have him assess you before you dismiss what you feel as a simple headache, especially if other conditions are attached such as vomiting and dizziness.
Peripheral neuropathy: This kind of pain is specially arising out of the nerves in the face, head, neck and the spine. This is what arises when the nerves themselves are irritated and are in discomfort causing them to start hurting. Conditions that cause this kind of pain include sciatica, shingles, diabetes, and AIDS.
Circulatory issues: Blockage of blood vessels such that the blood cannot flow at its normal pace to the right area is known to cause problems. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are known to cause this kind of pain. Other conditions include prolonged use of tobacco, diabetes, blockage formed by deposits of fat, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).
With circulatory blockage, oxygen and nutrients are not reaching a certain area of the body since blood is not moving in that direction. When the area receives no nourishment for some time, it starts to die and this causes pain. In the case of RSD, the nerves start to get irritated because the blood vessels are narrowing and constricting them.
Bone and muscle pain: Muscle spasms or cramps will often leave a person in lots of pain. It is most common in the back area and is prone to being prolonged. On the other hand, bone pain is a gnawing and throbbing feeling that can last a long time. These conditions include arthritis, bone cancer, osteoporosis, and osteomyelitis.
General somatic pain: This is pain suffered on the surface of the skin and never goes away. It can include back pain and fibromyalgia. This is usually the kind of pain someone may have to live with for the rest of their lives from the moment it ensues to the day they die. Some days it is really bad while on other occasions it can be bearable.
Visceral pains: This is the pain from the internal organs, and may affect any internal organ. However, since the nerves in the internal organs are less advanced than those on the outside, the brain does not usually register the pain until it has been going on for quite some time. The conditions that can trigger this pain include chronic pancreatitis and active hepatitis.
Most people who suffer from chronic pain take a while to see a doctor and even then the doctor may not find anything wrong with you and write it off as an emotional problem. If you have pain in a particular body part for which treatment has been prescribed but the pain is not receding even after six months, it is best you go see a specialist. It is best to figure out what is wrong because if it is a physical problem, then the earlier it is diagnosed the better.
It may also be important to point out that some people will suffer from chronic emotional pain as in the cases of depression and anxiety. These people will be in continuous pain of which there is no physical evidence and treatment is to be of the mind. Also, people who suffer from prolonged pain with physical evidence tend to become anxious and depressed, which will intensify their pain. The emotional pain then limits the body’s ability to heal itself and producing natural pain killers, resulting into a cycle of pain. The patient takes longer to heal and becomes more depressed even further reducing the healing process.