Chronic pain, by definition, is a long-lasting form of pain. If you’re part of the 20 percent of American adults with chronic pain, you know the symptoms can affect every part of your life. You may find yourself wondering how long this pain will continue. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Acute Pain?
Acute pain starts abruptly and is normally intense in quality. It’s a warning that your body is at threat of disease or injury and may be caused by one or many circumstances, including pain from surgery, traumatic pain caused by a burn, cut, or broken bone, or muscle strain. It could be mild and momentary, or severe and months long, but in most cases, the acute pain will disappear within six months of receiving treatment.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Sometimes, chronic pain is triggered by an infection or old injury, or by an illness. In some cases, even a thorough medical exam won’t be able to uncover the source of your pain. But there are certain conditions that may trigger or result in chronic pain, including:
- Back problems
- Headaches or migraines
- Nerve damage
- Previous surgery
Depression and stress have also been known to worsen discomfort, including chronic pain. But help is available.
How To Cope With Chronic Pain
Some people try therapy or medicine or just try to plow through it. Here are other tips:
- Stretching, practicing good posture, and moving gently (such as with tai chi) for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
- Stay active with a daily routine your healthcare provider recommends. This can help strengthen muscles, enhance mood, and distract you from thinking of pain.
- Try muscle relaxation (passive or progressive) exercises or mindfulness techniques.
- Create a daily plan of tasks or routines and pace yourself. Take breaks before the pain starts.
- Take care of other ailments that worsen the pain. Treating instances of depression and anxiety is a good place to start.
- Stay positive and do things that bring enjoyment while remembering your limits.
- Don’t self-isolate or be a shut-in. Staying connected with friends and family may decrease focusing on pain.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
How Long Does Chronic Pain Last
“Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months or years. Some people suffer chronic pain even when there is no past injury or apparent body damage.”
According to Steven P. Cohen, MD, director of pain research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., managing chronic pain is a long, perhaps even lifelong, process. For someone who’s experienced chronic pain for years, one or two office visits won’t likely result in immediate relief.
Because of its very definition, chronic pain is likely something that doesn’t go away. Many of its symptoms (joint pain, muscle aches, burning pain, fatigue, sleep problems, etc.) come and go and can often be treated successfully, but the pain itself is unpredictable.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 50 million U.S. adults experience chronic pain symptoms each year. Because pain is unique for everyone, it can be challenging finding pain relief that works. You should ask a healthcare professional:
- How do you diagnose pain?
- What tests or procedures are used?
- How’s chronic pain treated?
- Will I have to take prescription medicine?
- Who, besides yourself, will help me manage chronic pain?
- Are there things I should stop doing?
Diagnosis & Treatment
Chronic pain is normally diagnosed by visiting your medical doctor, where you’ll be asked about personal and family medical history and to provide details as possible about your pain (location, severity, frequency). Your doctor will perform a thorough medical examination and may run tests (blood, bone, neurological, and imaging tests) to find the reason for your pain. If you have symptoms of depression or another psychological issue, you may be referred to a mental health specialist to help uncover the source of your pain.
Following diagnosis, your doctor may recommend physical or psychological therapy or medicine like ketamine infusion therapy.
If you experience symptoms of chronic pain, don’t let them take control. This kind of pain can last six months or longer and result in serious mental and physical health problems if left untreated. Contact us at Nova Health Recovery today to learn more.