Chronic pain is a difficult thing to define, even among those that are suffering from it. While it is safe to say that we understand that pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong, this warning system can malfunction and send needless signals or signals that are not proportionate to condition in question. In many cases of chronic pain, these pain signals are sent when there is nothing wrong at all. Because every condition is different, there is no set time when a pain goes from acute to chronic, although most physicians would agree that pain that lasts longer than six months without relief from medical intervention can be called chronic pain.
There are many different strategies that can be tried in order to relieve or cope with chronic pain. Sometimes chronic pain can be relieved through invasive techniques or it is simply a question of finding the correct cause of pain. Others may have to come to terms with living with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. The following are a few methods for treating and living with chronic pain, which patients should discuss thoroughly with their health care practitioner.
Treating Chronic Pain With Drugs
The most common drug used in the fight against chronic pain is non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs. Better known as paracetemol or ibuprofen, these over the counter medicines can help manage pain if taken on a regular basis, but there is a real concern that they can cause gastro-intestinal problems such as stomach ulcers if used in the long term. Some doctors may prescribe it anyway along with medications to protect the gastro-intestinal system if the pain is sufficiently relieved. Stronger medicines are available, such as morphine and codeine, but many doctors are reluctant to prescribe these medicines for the long term as there are concerns that they can be addictive.
Many people suffering from chronic pain avoid exercise as they think it will cause the pain to increase, but in fact exercise can be very helpful in coping with chronic pain and in many cases can decrease it. Controlled movement can help bring back flexibility to stiff muscles and joints, and enough exercise can not only increase muscle mass but bone mass as well, both of which help support the body and keep it strong. Physiotherapy can include stretching, mobilising or manipulating techniques such as massage, hydrotherapy, or exercise guided by a physical therapist.
Other kinds of treatments that are outside the realm of medical assistance one would find from their GP can also help with chronic pain. Chiropractors and osteopaths work by manipulating the joints of the body, which can help certain kinds of chronic pain, while traditional Eastern medicine, such as shiatsu or acupuncture, concentrate on putting pressure on certain points of the body to provide relief from different sorts of pain.