Chronic pain: what it is, how to manage and live with it

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Chronic pain what it is, how to manage and live with it

What is Chronic pain?

The term “chronic” or “persistent pain” refers to pain that persists for more than three months or, in many instances, beyond the normal healing period.

It is not the same as acute pain, which typically only lasts a short time and is caused by something like an injury.

Chronic pain is a complicated condition that affects everyone differently. Most days, the pain, which can be mild or severe, is felt.

 

What causes chronic pain?

There are many different kinds of chronic pain, such as pain caused by nerves, problems with bones, muscles, or joints, or cancer.

Injuries, surgeries, and illnesses like migraines, osteoporosis, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions can also cause chronic pain. Chronic pain may sometimes have no apparent cause.

Normally, when you get hurt, the injured part of your body sends signals to the brain from the nerves, telling the brain there is a problem. These signals are perceived as pain by the brain.

However, when a person suffers from chronic pain, the nerves that transmit pain signals to the brain or the brain itself exhibit unusual behavior.

The brain may be misinterpreting other signals as pain or the nerves may be more sensitive than usual.

If acute pain is not treated properly or is left untreated, it may progress into a chronic condition. The likelihood of pain becoming chronic increases the longer it goes untreated.

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your pain.

 

Living with chronic pain

Chronic pain can make it difficult to work, take care of oneself, and engage in hobbies. Additionally, it may affect your mood and sleep.

More than half of adults in Australia who suffer from chronic pain experience anxiety or depression as a result of their pain. If this occurs to you, it is essential to treat it.

Improving your emotional health and well-being can assist you in managing your pain, just as pain can affect your mood.

Take a look at this NPS MedicineWise video: Australians discuss their experiences with pain and how it has affected their lives.

 

Managing chronic pain

Managing chronic pain with medication alone is not an effective method. Additional treatments, such as self-management, physical activity, and psychological approaches, will be required if you have chronic pain.

When chronic pain sufferers actively manage their pain on a daily basis, they perform better than those who rely on passive treatments like surgery or medication. The majority of people benefit from a variety of treatments and self-management strategies, including:

talking to a psychologist or using self-help websites online talking to an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist activity pacing relaxation techniques like meditation exercise like walking, swimming, cycling, or tai chi improving your sleep Talk to your doctor about creating a plan for managing your chronic pain.

As part of the plan, you probably will see several doctors and other medical professionals.

 

The following medications can help manage chronic pain:

paracetamol is a powerful pain reliever that is typically taken with other medications. If paracetamol is not alleviating your pain, consult your physician.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and diclofenac can be helpful, but avoid taking them for longer than necessary because they can cause serious side effects.

Antidepressants like amitriptyline, which is used to treat depression, can also reduce pain. Anticonvulsants, or medicines that treat epilepsy, can also control nerve pain. Pregabalin and gabapentin are two examples.

Opioids—strong opioid pain-relief medications like morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, or codeine—may be prescribed for short periods of time but are not very effective for non-cancer-related chronic pain. Opioids are typically not recommended for cancer-related chronic pain.

Opioid abuse over long periods of time has the potential to be harmful in a number of ways, including accidental overdose, life-threatening breathing issues, dependence, tolerance, and addiction.

Opioid-induced hyperalgesia, or prolonged opioid use, can also make a person more sensitive to pain.

Medication may not always alleviate all of your pain symptoms. However, managing chronic pain is about preventing pain from interfering with your life so that you can resume engaging in activities you enjoy, like working, socializing, and being active.

You could also think about getting referred to a pain management program at a pain clinic, which is offered privately and in most major public hospitals.

You can arrange this with the help of your doctor.

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