Chronic Pain - Why does it exist and how can I find the right solutions for me?
There are few things in this world more debilitating than long term chronic pain, and the search for relief is never ending for many. In today's blog, we aim to discuss the difference in the types of pain, how they can develop and some solutions that may help. Let's get started.
What is pain?
Pain is the body’s way of communicating with the brain that there is something wrong. Generally, it is warning us that there is about to be potential tissue damage, or there is already damage present. There are two types of pain:
This pain is usually sharp and abrupt. This type of pain is minor and should only last for a short period of time. Acute pain can develop into chronic pain if poorly treated. Often, the body will become more sensitive to pain and even the slightest breeze can cause discomfort to the body.
Some acute conditions are:
- Broken bones
- Dental work
- Burns or cuts
- Labour and childbirth
Chronic Pain is defined as 'chronic' when the pain has lasted for over three months. It can be present even after the tissue or injury has healed due to the pain signals still remaining active. Chronic pain can also be present without any clear reason. There are many conditions that are classed as chronic such as:
- Nerve pain
- Back pain
- Fibromyalgia pain
- Neuropathic pain
There are other uncommon conditions related to chronic pain such as conditions related to nerve pain, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, facial pain and post-surgical pain.
How can chronic pain be treated?
Chronic pain can last from a few months to years, depending on the nature of the pain and the pain management programs in place. It is important to speak to your doctor about any type of pain that you might have. Your doctor will be able to run tests to find out the nature of the pain and develop a management plan. This management plan can involve physical therapy, prescription medication, social and emotional goals (covers mood, relationships, work and family life), physical and functional goals (covering daily activities and how long you can exercise for). Studies have found that people who suffer from chronic pain are at a higher risk of anxiety, depression and interrupted sleeping patterns.
The dangers of opioids
Severe pain is often treated by the doctor with strong pain relievers known as opioids. These medications are classed as dangerous drugs, but may effectively help with chronic pain relief. There is however, no known long term relief or improvement from opioids and high risk of harm and addiction.
What else can I do to help manage the pain?
It is recommended to continue to exercise as regular activities can help maintain muscle strength and aid mental health. Some recommended activities are:
· Physio therapy
· Rehabilitation councillors
· Complimentary medicines (always consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new vitamin or OTC product)
· Compounded alternatives
Compounding is the process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient. We are able to offer alternatives to over the counter (OTC) topical pain creams as well as natural alternatives for pain relief that do not have any known side effects or contradictions to prescription medications. To find out more, please speak to one or our pharmacists.
There are many resources available online to help identify ways to manage and treat chronic pain - we have listed some below for your convenience:
https://www.apsoc.org.au/facility-directory (this a link for pain clinics based in WA)