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Chronic Pain

Pain serves an important role. It lets you know something is wrong that needs your attention. When the body heals, pain normally goes away.

When pain lasts longer than six months, it is called “chronic” pain. This is pain that is present even after the body has healed. Chronic pain can cause mood problems and get in the way of your relationships and your daily life.

A number of conditions can cause chronic pain. Some of the more common include:

  • Previous surgery

  • An old injury

  • Infection

  • Diseases such as diabetes

  • Nerve damage

  • Back injury

  • Arthritis

  • Migraine or other headaches

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Cancer

Depression and stress can make chronic pain symptoms worse. In some cases, a cause for the pain cannot be found. 

Treatment

Treatment can greatly reduce pain. In many cases, pain can become less severe, occur less often, and interfere less with your daily life. Chronic pain is often treated with a combination of medicines, therapies, and lifestyle changes. You will work closely with your healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that works best for you.

  • Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a pain management specialty center. These can provide the most recent and proven pain management strategies, along with emotional support and comprehensive services.

  • Several different types of medicines may be prescribed for chronic pain. Work with your healthcare provider to develop a medicine plan that helps manage your pain.

  • Physical therapy can be very effective in helping reduce certain types of chronic pain.

  • Occupational therapy teaches you how to do routine tasks of daily living in ways that lessen your discomfort.

  • Psychological therapy can help you cope better with stress and pain.

  • Other therapies such as meditation, yoga, biofeedback, massage, and acupuncture can also help manage chronic pain.

  • Changing certain habits can help reduce chronic pain. They include:

    • Eating healthy

    • Developing an exercise routine

    • Getting enough sleep at night

    • Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol use

    • Losing excess weight

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Let your healthcare provider know if your current treatment plan is working or if changes are needed.

Resources

For more information, contact:

  • American Council for Headache Society www.achenet.org

  • American Chronic Pain Association www.theacpa.org 800-533-3231

 

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