You got a small paper cut, put on some ointment and a bandage, and never gave it a second thought. Why? Because you knew the cause and that the pain would eventually subside. But what if you experience pain without injury or illness, and it lingers for months or years?
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is discomfort that lingers for more than three months. It can be pervasive, or it may start and stop. Chronic pain can occur anywhere in your body.
“Chronic pain can interfere with your daily activities, such as working, having a social life, and taking care of yourself or others. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping, making your pain worse. This response creates a cycle that’s difficult to break.”
Types of Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain symptoms, some of them can be managed with ketamine. They include headaches, post-surgical pain, pain after trauma, low back pain, cancer, arthritis pain, pain resulting from nerve damage, and pain not derived from disease, injury, or nerve impairment.
According to some estimates, more than 1.5 billion people globally experience chronic pain. It’s the most widespread reason for long-term disability in America, harming about 100 million citizens.
How Do You Manage Chronic Pain?
Some people manage chronic pain in various ways, some recognized by science, some not at all. But before you attempt to manage chronic pain, you need to know the symptoms. Common chronic pain symptoms may include moderate to very severe pain that doesn’t go away as you’d expect following an illness or injury. Everyone has a different experience with pain and different thresholds, but chronic pain is often described as:
- a dull ache
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain may be caused by injury, illness, psychological trauma, or something else not easily identified. There also could be an underlying health issue, such as:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, where you oftentimes experience intense, protracted tiredness that’s often escorted by pain
- Endometriosis, which is an excruciating condition that happens if the uterine lining develops outside the uterus
- Fibromyalgia, which is pervasive discomfort within your bones and muscles
- Inflammatory bowel disease, a set of conditions that results in painful, chronic swelling in a person’s digestive tract
- A chronic disorder (interstitial cystitis) characterized by bladder pressure and discomfort
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, where a person suffers from uncomfortable clicking, popping, or jaw locking
- Chronic vulva pain happens but as no precise cause
Are There Pain Management Techniques?
Yes, some of which people have used successfully for years to control their chronic pain symptoms. Here are some things to try as needed.
- Try whole-body stretches, soothing yoga, or tai chi in 10 to 15 minute stretches each day.
- Follow an activity plan recommended by your healthcare provider to strengthen muscles, better your mood, and take your mind off the pain.
- Try passive or progressive muscle relaxation, relaxed breathing, or mindfulness.
- Engage in regular planning by balancing daily tasks, leisure, and other duties to foster structure and routine. Be sure to take regular breaks.
- Find out what else may worsen the pain. It may be beneficial to treat anxiety and depression to minimize pain and boost your quality of life. Talk with a doctor or therapist if you notice signs of anxiety or depression.
- Stay positive and do the things you enjoy, which may take some effort. Finding enjoyable activities has been known to reduce the impacts of pain indicators in the body.
- Spending time with loved ones and friends in person or remotely can lessen your focus on pain.
- Try and get a good night’s sleep.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A key step in managing chronic pain is diagnosis. Once you see a doctor, you’ll be asked about your experience with pain (how often it happens, under what circumstances, how you’d rate it, etc.) and whether you know of anything that causes it. You also can expect to undergo tests and diagnostic procedures, like blood tests, bone tests, electromyographic tests to check muscle activity, x-rays, and many others. Your doctor may also recommend a psychiatric evaluation depending on the test results.
Upon diagnosis, your healthcare provider could recommend ketamine, but most likely store-bought pain relievers, muscle relaxers, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes.
Chronic pain can be confusing and, sometimes, even depressing. By its very nature, but it can also result in other physical and psychological issues that may need treatment. If you suffer from chronic pain symptoms, talk to a doctor for helpful advice or look online.