When it always hurts: Dealing with chronic painSubmitted in Health & Fitness by Corie Richter on July 25, 2013
Science does not always know why someone has pain; nor can they relieve chronic pain all the time even if they know the cause. However pain is real, whether or not anyone can figure out why it is happening.
Pain is complex and the causes vary, as do the treatments. When doing research on any medical condition, always make sure your source is qualified. To understand this problem better, a few good sites are webmd.com and mayoclinic.com. All their articles are written or edited by physicians in the specialty.
There are international organizations dedicated to the study of pain relief, and some are available to everyone, such as the IASP.
Pain and its moderation are directly related to how the brain and nervous system perceive it. So, while your ankle may hurt, it is the nerves and brain deciding how much. There is a much more detailed explanation here.
If your pain is chronic (more than 6 months), and your doctor has not been able to help, it is time to see a pain management specialist. This is a physician specially trained in identifying and relieving pain. If after you have followed the advice of the pain management specialist and are told there is nothing more to be done, then it may be time to consider alternative therapy.
- Products that claim to cure you of almost any ailment. There are many offered on the web as well as popular magazines. You will be wasting your money and the products (natural or not) can harm you as well as react poorly with a medication you are taking.
- Practitioners who claim to rid you of pain with secret formulas or devices. They are probably fake.
- Taking more supplements than are recommended. Too many can become harmful to the nervous system and increase pain, as well as have bad interactions with medications. Ask your doctor if it is safe to take with your medicine. As always, get quality products: the most expensive is not necessarily the best, and the least expensive does not mean it is less effective. Research the products.
What Can Make the Pain Worse?
- Stress: The body and mind are influenced by the challenges you face every day. Learn how to identify and modify it. Many people of faith find they can obtain relief through prayer.
- Depression: Emotions greatly influence the amount and severity of pain; especially in the head, neck, and back. Chronic pain can also cause depression, making it worse. Seek professional counseling to stop the cycle. Do not isolate yourself.
- Inactivity: What we now know is that activity increases circulation and mobility, as well as decreases chronic pain. In addition, movement and interacting with others go far in relieving depression!
Alternative Ways to Relieve Pain
- Acupuncture: This oriental practice is one of the oldest and most respected throughout the world, for its ability to interfere with pain pathways. Treatment often requires several sessions, but you will know within the first two if it will work. Make certain the practitioner is reputable and experienced
- Biofeedback: Helps you take charge of how your brain reacts to pain. There are several ways to do it, and methods can be found on the web; as well as classes in some communities and workplaces.
- Topical capsaicin: Made from chili peppers. The ointment or cream is absorbed through the skin, and is quite widely used for arthritic pain with considerable success.
- Fish oil supplements: Known to reduce inflammation, which may lie at the heart of the problem.
The bottom line: While some chronic pain may not yet have a cure, there are ways to provide a margin of relief. The key is not to let it take over your life. Always have hope that it will improve.
Corie Richter is a resident of upstate NY. She is a published author, healthcare and educational writer who enjoys ancient history, is involved with scouting and community volunteer work.