Pain of recent onset (“acute pain”) serves an important function. It lets you know something is wrong that needs your attention. When the body heals, acute pain goes away.
When pain lasts longer than six months, it is called “chronic pain.” It may be present even after the body has healed. Chronic pain has both a physical and a psychological component. It may cause low self-esteem, depression and irritability. And, it can interfere with daily activities.
Chronic pain is treated with a combination of medicines, therapy and lifestyle changes.
Medicines may include pain relievers and antidepressants. It is best not to rely on regular use of narcotics for chronic pain. This leads to physical addiction. If narcotics are used at all, they are best limited to acute, breakthrough pain. Medicines used for seizures also help in certain types of chronic pain.
Physical therapy can offer stretching and strengthening activities as well as low-impact exercise. This can reduce certain types of chronic pain.
Occupational therapy teaches you how to do routine tasks of daily living in ways that minimize your discomfort.
Psychological therapy can help you deal with the stress in your life so you feel more at ease.
Other modalities such as meditation, yoga, biofeedback, massage and acupuncture can also help manage chronic pain.
Lifestyle habits can affect chronic pain. The following should be part of any chronic pain treatment plan.
Develop an exercise routine
Get enough sleep at night
Stop smoking and limit alcohol use
Start a weight loss program if you are overweight
Many patients can be free from chronic pain. But at the very least, you should expect your pain to become less severe, occur less often and interfere less with your daily life.
FOLLOW UP with your doctor or as advised by our staff. Let your doctor know if your current treatment plan is successful or if changes are needed.
[NOTE: If you had an X-ray or EKG (cardiogram), it will be reviewed by a specialist. You will be notified of any new findings that may affect your care.]
American Council for Headache Society www.achenet.org
American Chronic Pain Association www.theacpa.org 800-533-3231