Chronic Pain FAQ'S
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- Is There A Difference Between Acute
Pain And Chronic Pain..?
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- Why Does Chronic Pain Occur...?
Although medical science is still learning about the causes and complexities
of chronic pain, generally speaking, chronic pain arises when something goes
awry and activates pain signals on regular basis.
There are also those who believe chronic physical pain is really the end result
of accumulated, unhealed emotional pain that has found its expression via
the wounding of the body as vehicle for this transport.
Amongst the pain variables, sometimes there's direct damage to, and
compression of the nerves themselves, and sometimes disturbances within
the body cause nerve signals to remain active although they aren't directly
damaged themselves. Injury, trauma, disease, degenerative processes,
inflammatory processes, biochemical imbalances, neurological injury and
dysfunction, mechanical imbalances are all broad-based categories of
conditions that can keep pain signals firing. Sometimes nerve cells that were
once involved in a pain-producing situation remain ultra-sensitive and
continue to send pain signals when normally none would be sent. A growing
body of research suggests that chronic pain is not just symptom of
abnormality, but is the abnormality itself. And so, when one portion of the
nervous system breaks down and causes ongoing pain, other parts are
affected as well.
- What Are Some Specific Conditions
Associated With Chronic Pain...?
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I'm Having Lots Of Pain But No One Can Find Its Source.
Can I Be Making It All Up...?
There are a number of ways to approach this question, the answers of which
depend upon the particulars of each case. Just because no cause can be
found for your pain, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There is still much that has
yet to be discovered about chronic pain, nor well understood, hence plenty
remains unknown despite vast knowledge and ever-evolving technical
Furthermore, as advanced as our diagnostic technology is, there's still plenty
of gaps in the ability of technology to detect and record existent
abnormalities that might be responsible for the chronic nature of pain.
And not to be ignored or dismissed, is the reality of mis-diagnosis, and
incorrect or inadequate diagnosis all of which occur more frequently than any
of us prefer.
For example, for years there was debate over the legitimacy of Gulf War
Syndrome, a series of troublesome ailments and maladies affecting significant
numbers of Gulf War vets. Within the past few years however, super-
sensitive MRI scans have been able to detect abnormalities deep inside the
brains of those with Gulf War Syndrome that Ordinary MRI's - as good as they
are - cannot.
And so, if you encounter medical providers who believe current technology is
able to detect and identify everything, it might be worth your while to
switch to providers who have more realistic views to the contrary.
Nonetheless, as human beings, there's always interplay between mind and
body, and thus, what can affect one, can also affect the other. Taken to the
extreme, there are those who believe that ALL physical pain and illness is a
reflection of unhealed pain and wounds of the soul.
In a less extreme viewpoint, given there is interplay between mind and body,
sometimes symptoms that manifest physically, are actually mental, spiritual or
emotional in origin and are termed Psychogenic, or Somatization disorders.
Unlike Hypochondria however, the physical pain is real, but the cause is
Good medicine is both science and art, and thus, it requires a skilled and
open-minded medical provider to properly make the distinction between
psychogenic pain and pain that's legitimately physical in origin...whatever
the case may be in any given situation. And, don't overlook the possibility of
sometimes being both.
There are however many lessons to learn from lives destroyed from long lists
of conditions that were - and sometimes still are - erroneously diagnosed as
somatic. Diseases and conditions afflicting women, such as Pre-menstrual
Syndrome, and Endometriosis, have long histories of being diagnosed as
psychogenic, when in fact, there is legitimate physical reason for the
suffering associated with these conditions, which can be immense.
At some point, most folks are bound to be humbled by the vulnerability of
illness or pain, or at least know someone who is. And so, the more each of us
is in tune with our true selves...physically, emotionally, spiritually...the
easier it will be for both medical provider and consumer to more accurately
assess which components of pain are legitimately physical, and which might
be arising from psychological distress.
What Are Some Treatments For Chronic Pain...?
There are many ways to treat chronic pain and lessen its intensity, as well as
its overall impact on quality of life.
Though the notion of the "magic bullet" or the one-shot-be-gone- procedure
or treatment is enticing, if such were routinely possible for the majority of
chronic pain conditions, there wouldn't be a many chronic pain cases to
contend with after all!!! And so, for the majority of chronic pain Survivors,
co-existing with chronic pain involves battling back on many fronts, and
hence, the medical discipline of "Pain Management" - rather than "Pain Cure"
- has sprung to life.
Every human being is unique and therefore the ideal treatment plan is one
that is individually tailored to meet the needs and circumstances of each
case. But in a broad sense, treatment can include rest, exercise, lifestyle
alterations, dietary modifications, nutritional supplementation,
environmental changes, prescription and over-the-counter medications,
herbs, homeopathy, Eastern health-care, bodywork, polarity therapy,
injections, mind-body approaches, physical therapy, occupational therapy,
specialized medical procedures, mental health counseling, surgery,
meditation, relaxation training, behavior modification, support group
participation, chiropractic care, personal accountability, biofeedback,
massage therapy, acupuncture, pain clinic enrollment, holistic health care,
medical condition education, immune system enhancements, and more.
Key factors that can make or break the viability of the aforementioned, is
the chronic pain Survivor's active participation in the above with genuine
desire to improve, as well as the open-mindedness of all involved - from
Survivor, to providers, to significant others - to adapt, adjust, and alter the
game-plan as needed.
- I'm Getting Treatment For Pain, Yet I'm
Not Feeling Better. Is It Possible I Enjoy
Feeling Badly, Or Relish The "Fringe-
Benefits" Of Living With Pain...?
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I Have Chronic Pain That's Interfering With My
Life And Dreams And Making Me Angry,
Frustrated, Depressed. Is There Anything I Can
Do About This...?
These feelings are common amongst chronic pain Survivors and varies from
person to person and fluctuates within individual Survivors as well. Chronic
pain can lead to feelings of lost control for both newcomer and pain veteran
alike, but since each person and circumstance is unique, perhaps the
challenge that exists for each Survivor is the development and use of a
personalized, issue-specific game-plan that enables the Survivor to more
effectively deal with the inevitable bumps and bruises that lie ahead.
Nonetheless, reality is such that life with chronic pain of a disruptive or
debilitating nature can be difficult and effect many, if not most or all
components of a pain Survivor's life.
And so, when feelings of anger, frustration, and depression arise, an
additional part of the game-plan might also involve the development of
outlets to discuss these feelings with supportive, understanding others -
including mental health professionals - not just for brainstorming and
assistance, but for opportunity to more effectively cope with some of the
emotional pain that physical pain creates as by-product.
Friends And Family Tell Me To Ignore My Pain And Get
On With My Life. They Act As If I'm Making It Up. Is
There Anything I Can Do To Make Things Easier On All
It's not always possible for those who do not have chronic pain, chronic
illness, or some sort of life-affecting disability, to understand what it's like to
battle the pain beast on ongoing basis.
Most people can relate to the suffering involved in short-lived, acute pain
and the concomitant difficulties that ensue, but many cannot identify with
the complexities and realities of lasting pain and related difficulties. And so,
the initial patience and compassion that was once freely dispensed, might
dry over time, and perhaps especially so if the pain Survivor's circumstances
directly affect others, or there are no outward signs of injury and disease
that can adequately reflect the suffering the chronic pain Survivor is
Since chronic pain affects the lives of pain Survivors and those who interact
with them on an ongoing basis, the development of open and honest
communication regarding the needs and feelings of all parties, might pave
the way toward a more peaceful, respectful, workable co-existence.
My Friend Says That Since She Knows Someone Who Has
The Same Condition As I And Functions Well Day To Day, I
Should Stop Acting Disabled And Get On With My Life.
What If She's Right?
Only you know what it's like to exist inside your body and thus, only you
know what does and doesn't feel right to you.
Each person is different and thus, each person's pain is different as well.
Remember, each person's anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, neurology,
mental make-up, experiences, environment, lifestyle, and current health,
along with differences in location of the condition(s) within the body, the
interaction and proximity of multiple conditions with one another, the
length of time of the condition(s)existence, and severity, all can be
different, and thus, two people with the same diagnosis might share
similarity in name only.
Consider this basic example. Person "A" mildly sprains his ankle and walks
around with a slight limp, and misses only one day of work. On the other
hand, Person "B" severely sprains his ankle, has major ligament damage and
misses three weeks of work as a result.
Each has ankle sprain, but clearly one person's injury is far more severe.
Furthermore, both conditions begin as acute, with an expectation they will
resolve in just a matter of time.
Suppose for example, person "B" - the one with the severe sprain - soon
discovers that recovery is not going as smoothly and quickly as hoped. "B"
already missed plenty of work and needs to return, as well as tend to other
responsibilities that were temporarily put aside in the earlier stages of
Over the months that follow, "B's" ankle injury - once an acute one - grows
into chronic problem with continuous pain and discomfort.
I'm A Parent With Chronic Pain And Feel I'm Neglecting My
Kids. What Can I Do...?
This can be a trying situation especially if your children are young, or are in
particular need of your attention. And if you're single parent, the challenge
could be greater still.
How you approach the situation can make a difference.
Can you make the most of the time you can spend with your children, by
emphasizing quality over quantity when you're going through a particularly
If you're unable to actively participate at any given time, can you
nonetheless spend time in same location with them, verbally interacting or if
need be, remaining silent?
Can you tell your children you love them and care a great deal about them
even though you cannot always participate in the degree both they and you
Can you avoid turning them into your caretakers while still respectfully asking
them for age-appropriate help when needed?
Can you avoid throwing your adult issues and concerns at them, but not
leave them in the dark either about what you're experiencing? Can you
provide age-appropriate explanations and respond to their questions with
Can you grant them opportunity to openly and honestly express their feelings
about your chronic pain...to completely and freely hear them out without
quashing their expressions, dismissing them, or minimizing that which they
share with you?
Are there other adults you can turn to for support and assistance...friends,
family, spouse, public and private organizations, support groups, mental
health professionals, family counselors, and so forth?
I Care About Someone Who Has Chronic Pain And I'm
Feeling Angry, Helpless, Frustrated...And Not Proud Of
This. Is This Normal, And Is There Anything I Can Do To
Make Things Better For All...?
Chronic pain can affect both pain Survivor and those who care or interact
with them on an ongoing basis, and so, feelings of anger, helplessness, and
frustration are common and natural progression of a situation where needs
and desires of those involved might clash and/or not get adequately met.
Though solution to conflict is not always cakewalk, good communication can
open doors to which all sides have opportunity to respectfully disclose and
discuss feelings, foster better understanding, and propose viable
compromises where possible.
When conflict however continues to play out - whether voiced or not - with
no mutually satisfactory solution, the support and guidance of others
experienced and knowledgeable in the issues of such conflicts might help
make the inevitable bumps in the road less rocky. Support groups and/or
counseling with qualified mental health professionals are some recourses to
The Pain Is So Bad I'm At The End Of My Rope. Is There Any
Hope For Me...?
In spite of the devastating nature of some types of chronic pain situations,
as long as there's willingness to battle back, there's always hope for improved
well-being. Easier said than done, of course, especially if the pain situation is
particularly harsh or ongoing with little or no sign of change despite effort.
However, a lack of success has the potential to breed success by virtue of
what is extracted from it. And so the establishment of game plan as road-map
to fight back, or the adjustment of one already in place, might renew hope
and opportunity to seek new paths of potential relief. If what you're doing
right now isn't working, then look into other options. Learn to think outside
Seek support from those with chronic pain or chronic illness, or reach out
toward other understanding, respectful, supportive others whom you trust.
Where possible, avoid those whose words and actions only knock you down.
Also consider that perhaps what you need is some time-off...a break from
the ongoing emotional, mental, and physical energy expended in trying to
If your current medical providers cannot adequately help, look for others
with fresh perspective who might. If certain types of treatments are not
adequately helping, look into others, whether Western or Eastern medicine,
or both. Seek out pain clinics, and organizations that help those with pain,
illness, and disability. Consult mental health professionals.
And please remember to read and learn about your medical conditions, and
about the human mind, body and spirit in general. The more you know and
understand, the more you might be able to help yourself, as well as aide
others in helping you sort it all out.
Should I Just Give In And Accept That I'm Always Going To
Be In Pain...?
The decision to continue to expend the energy necessary to battle onward is
a very personal one best left for the chronic pain Survivor to determine
should he/she ever come to that fork in the road.
There never does however have to be an "either-or" situation...i.e., whether
to battle or not. Between "all or nothing" are very many some things, the goal
perhaps being a coming to peace with whatever path, or parts of a path are
chosen...whether temporarily to regroup and renew, or permanently to
accept and lay to rest.
Remember however, that with research and technology growing as it is
today, every day holds the possibility for something new or better
understood to help you in your journey toward a better life.
|...Lifestyle Management For The Chronic Pain
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