Chronic pain affects eight of every 10 adults and is characterized by pain which lasts more than 12 weeks. Learn the four most common types in. Learn about the main classifications of chronic pain, including Idiopathic pain is more common in people who have a pre-existing pain. "Depression is common in chronic pain patients, but people who think chronic . of treatments, makes the most sense for your chronic pain?.
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When any type of pain lasts a long time there can be changes in the spinal cord and the brain that change how we perceive painful sensations. These changes may result in severe pain with little or no painful stimulus.
Some chronic pain can be very difficult to treat and can become so frustrating for patients that it is often accompanied by depression or other emotional problems. It is this type of pain that represents some of the most challenging problems a pain management specialist can face. We usually think of pain in terms of an injury or inflammation.
This pain can serve a useful purpose, because when we are hurt we also protect ourselves to allow healing and to prevent further injury. Neuropathic pain, on the other hand, has no benefit. It occurs because of abnormal function of the nervous system.
This includes a wide variety of disorders affecting any part of the nervous system from the brain to the spinal cord to the smallest nerves in the toes. In some cases, pain sensation fibers send a signal even if there is no painful stimulus.
In other cases, sensory signals get crossed and "misread" as pain. A stroke can leave a patient unable to process sensation properly. And sometimes, the parts of our nervous system that help us manage pain stop working. There are many types of neuropathic pain. Some of the more common syndromes are diabetic neuropathy, shingles and post herpetic neuralgia, painful scars neuromas , phantom limb pain, trigeminal neuralgia tic doloreaux and pain associated with multiple sclerosis.
Spinal nerve injury, or radiculopathy, is a type of neuropathic pain associated with neck or low back problems. This is the pain that "shoots" down the arm or leg, because the nerve root is compressed or irritated at the spinal column.
Since neuropathic pain is different than injury related pain, it also needs to be treated differently. For instance, opioids like morphine may not be as effective for neuropathic pain for some people, but other types of drugs such as membrane stabilizers gabapentin, carbemazepine or tricyclics amitriptyline can be very effective for neuropathic syndromes.
One specialized type of treatment for neuropathic pain is a spinal cord stimulator. This device helps control pain by delivering precise electrical pulses to the spinal cord and blocking pain signals before they reach the brain. Complex regional pain syndrome CRPS is another type of neuropathic pain. It is also know as reflex sympathetic dystrophy RSD , causalgia, sympathetically maintained pain, as well as several other names. This serious pain disorder may result from a major injury, but it also can be caused by a relatively minor trauma.
The pain can be so intense that even lightest touch can be excruciating. In addition, the affected limb will usually show signs of abnormal circulation, temperature, and sweating all associated with abnormal function of the sympathetic nervous system, hence the name reflex sympathetic dystrophy , loss of function, and eventually atrophy of muscles and changes in the hair and skin.
Diagnosing CRPS may often be difficult, because a patient's symptoms and physical findings can mimic other disorders. Unfortunately, there is no specific test for CRPS. The diagnosis is likely if the patient meets certain criteria based on the kind of pain they are having and the symptoms associated with their pain. A block of the sympathetic nerves using local anesthetic has been used to help with the diagnosis, but CRPS can be present even if there is no pain relief after a sympathetic block.
CRPS can sometimes be cured in the early stages with physical therapy, sympathetic nervous system blocks and medication. The longer it remains untreated, however, the less likely the chances of reversing the symptoms.
You can buy TENS machines from pharmacists, supermarkets or online. Being active and taking exercise is a good prescription for managing pain. Knowing where to start can be daunting for some people with chronic pain as they often find it hard to do things on some days more than others.
To begin with your muscles might hurt so it's important that you choose a level of exercise that suits you. Most of all it should be enjoyable. This might start off with walk up and down your path or a walk to the end of the street and back. A local park is also a good option, especially if it has benches for you to rest on along the way. If you feel able to walk further, joining a local walking group is a good way to keep active and motivated.
Some of these groups are run by local councils and offer different levels of difficulty for beginners and upwards. You can also find walking groups through Ramblers Scotland. Dancing or moving to music, either sitting down or standing up or a mixture of both , is a great way to exercise. The buoyancy of the water makes us feel lighter. This can make movement and exercise easier than on dry land.
Spend 10 to 15 minutes in the water to begin with. Slow movements are best. If you'd prefer to exercise with others, you can find out about exercises classes from your local sports centre.
Classes range in difficulty so remember to ask what level of exercise each class offers. Many health care professionals can refer patients to exercise programmes that have been designed to help people become more active. These programmes are often based at local sport centres with specialists available to give advice and help to design an exercise programme that meets your needs.
When the body feels under threat it produces stress hormones that make us feel anxious and tense. The body sees pain as a threat and when it's persistent or chronic, it can make us feel unwell. Finding a way to relax can help to reduce pain. Anything which makes you feel good, you enjoy or gives you pleasure is a form of relaxation. Hobbies and activities may have taken a backseat due to your pain, but it's worth thinking about how to get back to doing things you enjoy. Anything that helps you to focus on things other than your pain is a good form of self-management.
Learn some relaxation techniques. Effective pain management tackles all aspects of your life affected by chronic pain - including your mental wellbeing. More about low mood and depression. Painkillers can help to reduce your pain and keep you moving. In some cases they won't be effective at treating your pain and can cause side effects. If you're already taking medication or have other health problems, it's important to check with your pharmacist before taking any non-prescription painkillers.
If you're still in pain after 12 weeks, speak to your GP if you haven't already done so. Your GP will be able to tell you the best plan for managing your pain. Home Illnesses and conditions Brain, nerves and spinal cord Chronic pain. Chronic pain can also affect people living with: More about the causes of pain How common is chronic pain? What can I do for myself? To help manage your pain, you might consider:
Here's an overview of the different types of pain and what One is to separate it into acute pain and chronic pain. . Postherpetic neuralgia is a common complication in which the pain from shingles lasts more than a month. However, if pain persists more than a month or two, it can become chronic pain. Some of the more common syndromes are diabetic neuropathy, shingles and. If you would like to know more about common forms of pain, please click on the following categories. You will also find help and resources, and true stories from .