What is Chronic Pain?
The term “chronic pain,” also known as intractable pain, is used to describe pain that is ongoing, or intermittent, over a period of several months or even years. The pain may feel dull or sharp and cause an aching or burning sensation in the affected area. Sometimes caused by an old injury or disease, chronic pain can also occur without any apparent underlying cause.
Living with chronic pain can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Ranging from mild to severe, chronic pain may limit your flexibility, mobility, strength, and endurance, and it can make getting through your daily activities more challenging. This, then, often leads to bouts of depression and anxiety, which can exacerbate the pain. It’s important to learn how to manage chronic pain so you can still lead an active and healthy life.
Four Main Types of Chronic Pain
The different types of chronic pain generally fall into one of these four categories:
- Neuropathic pain: This refers to pain caused by a malfunctioning nervous system or damage to the nervous system. Neuropathic pain is often characterized as a shooting or burning pain, such as sciatica, which is pain affecting the back, hip, upper to lower leg, and heel stemming from damage or injury to the sciatic nerve.
- Muscle pain: Injury or deterioration of muscle tissue can cause pain in the lower back, shoulders, arms, neck, legs, hips, and feet. This type of pain is typically caused by injury or repetitive motion.
- Inflammatory pain: Arthritis, infection, and tissue damage all fall under inflammatory pain. Symptoms may include swelling, warmth, and redness in the affected area.
- Mechanical pain: Mechanical pain is caused by pressure or compression of the bones, discs, ligaments, nerves, and joints associated with the spine. Typically affecting the lower back region, mechanical pain could be the result of fractures of the vertebrae or disc degeneration.
Treatment Options for Chronic Pain
The goal of treating and managing chronic pain is to reduce the pain so you can stay active and perform your daily activities without a great deal of discomfort. Depending on the overall condition of health, and the severity and frequency of your pain will determine the type of pain management plan that will work best for you. Pain management typically includes one or more of the following:
- Medicine – Such as pain relievers, anticonvulsants, or antidepressants.
- Therapy – such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, low-impact exercise, behavioral therapy (meditation, stress reduction).
- Alternative medicine – such as acupuncture or massage.
- Invasive treatments (for severe cases of chronic pain) – such as surgery, electrical stimulation, or nerve blocks.
In addition to the above treatment options, it’s also important to take a holistic approach to managing your pain by incorporating a healthy, well-rounded diet, fitness plan, and relaxation techniques into your daily routine.
Managing Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain can be hard, but it doesn’t have to keep you down. It’s important to make sure your lifestyle works in tandem with your treatment plan to keep your chronic pain manageable. Stay active and exercise often, stick to a regular bedtime routine, don’t smoke or drink too much, and maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, seek out friends and family for support and regularly enjoy your favorite activities to keep your mind off the pain.
To find the best pain management plan for your chronic pain, contact a pain management specialist at Coastal Orthopedics today at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online. The orthopedic surgeons and pain management experts at Coastal Orthopedics are dedicated to helping their patients live the best life possible.