An Inside Look into Chronic Pain

Pain can be anything from a mild headache to something excruciating and emergent such as chest pain. It can also last for a few weeks, months, and sometimes, more than three months. Pain that persists beyond the average recovery period is said to be chronic. Chronic pain can occur along with another health condition such as arthritis and may become and go or be continuous. Living with chronic pain affects your productivity and puts you at risk of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. The good news is that your New Brunswick physical therapy specialist can help you relieve chronic pain with minimally invasive treatments such as electrical stimulation and epidural steroid injection.

What causes chronic pain?

Different factors may result in chronic pain, and sometimes the cause is apparent. For example, patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer and arthritis experience prolonged pain. Sometimes the pain may result from an injury or disease that causes changes to your body, making you more sensitive to pain. Although your body may recover from the injury or illness, the changes may last for a while. For example, if you fracture your bone, the injured area may heal, but you remain in chronic pain.

For some people, the cause of their pain may not be evident since it is not linked to any physical illness or injury. Healthcare providers refer to that response as psychosomatic or psychogenic pain, tied to psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Most scientists account for this response to low levels of endorphins in the blood. Endorphins or feel-good hormones are natural chemicals that stimulate positive feelings. Your body may produce less of these hormones if you are stressed, anxious, or depressed.

What is the treatment for chronic pain?

The treatments for chronic pain are as diverse as the causes, so healthcare providers try to identify the cause. However, sometimes the cause of chronic pain is not apparent, and in such cases, healthcare providers resort to pain management. The type of treatment for chronic pain depends on various variables, including the cause of your chronic pain and your age and health. Your healthcare provider may develop a treatment plan for you with different strategies, including medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes.

Examples of medications your physician may prescribe for chronic pain include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Topical products. These are applied to the skin and contain ingredients that cause a soothing heat or cold.
  • Opioids. These drugs are highly addictive, and when you use them for a long time, your body develops tolerance. For this reason, healthcare providers only prescribe opioids after trying out other medications.

Your doctor may also recommend other treatments such as epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Lifestyle changes, including engaging in low-intensity exercises such as swimming and walking, may help reduce your pain. Getting quality sleep, eating healthy foods, and managing stress can also be helpful.

If you have persistent pain, reserve a session with your specialist at Pain & Anesthesia Care.