Chronic Pain: The Basics
invisible. And in many ways
it’s a symptom of deeper health concerns that is totally subjective.
How do you measure pain? By
the look on someone’s face? By
the number of times he winces when you touch the affected area?
The person who suffers with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia or with back pain appears no different physically than a healthy person free of such discomfort. But there’s a growing epidemic in this country. Right now nearly 10 percent of the people in the United States suffer from
severe pain. The numbers only
increase with age – and the Baby Boomers are just beginning to hit their
goal of these individuals is, of course, complete relief from the situation.
Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.
Health care practitioners in this country, as competent as they are
in many areas, are not really taught how to treat daily pain.
care practitioners and patients alike though very often misunderstand the
full effects of narcotics – one of the very few methods available to treat
pain. Health care practitioners are often reluctant to prescribe opioids
which can relieve not only acute, but chronic pain and eventually may avoid
the development of chronic pain syndrome.
similarly have reservations about these strong drugs, especially about the
dependency aspect that is so often associated with the medications.
Pain though is
a very real problem for very many people.
The problem with chronic pain is the “never ending” aspect of it.
It never really goes away. No
does it always respond to treatment as health care practitioners predict and
patients pray it will.
caused by an injury or an illness may persist long after the injury has
healed or the illness has cleared up. Permanent
changes have occurred in the body which triggers this situation.
Mark Grant is
a psychologist working in Australia specializing in chronic pain management.
He believes that the much heralded idea that “physical injury
equals pain” is a far too simple way to view this.
“We now know that pain is caused and maintained by a combination of
physical, psychological and neurological factors,” he explains.
And in the case of chronic pain, a persistent physical cause cannot
be determined in every case.
Pain, it seems
is far more complicated than we ever thought.
In fact, continuing pain can be caused by a variety of triggers,
Grant explains, not the least of which are muscle tension, changes in
circulation, postural imbalances, psychological distress as well as
not all. Unrelieved pain,
according to this expert, “is [also] associated with increased metabolic
rate, spontaneous excitation of the central nervous system, changes in blood
circulation to the brain and changes in the limbic-hypothalamic system.” This last is the area of the brain that – believe it or not
– regulates emotions.
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