What if My Pain Doesn’t Go Away?

People often get used to chronic pain as it is usually much weaker than acute pain—especially if the person regularly takes pain medications. However, pain leads to a systemic deterioration in the quality of life. What can you do for yourself?

Dr. Helen

General practitioner

Various types of chronic pain are experienced by 21 percent of the population, of which 56 percent are women. The group most affected is people over 65 years old. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) classifies “chronic pain” as any pain that lasts 3 months or longer.

Why does chronic pain occur?

The most common reasons include:

  • Postponed injuries or operations
  • Spine problems
  • Inflammatory issues
  • Pathologies of the nervous system
  • Infectious diseases
  • Psychological conditions

Types of chronic pain

There are many types of chronic pain. The most common includes:

Headache: aching, sharp pain. Headaches occur more frequently during the day than at night.

Back pain: constant pulling or pressing pain in the chest and lower back, less often in the sacral spine, which can echo in the shoulders, hip joints, or even hit the legs.

Joint pain: pain related to inflammatory processes in joints when changing position (from rest to movement or vice versa). Joints may swell or remain outwardly unchanged, but their mobility and flexibility are noticeably reduced. There is a chance that pain with arthrosis increases to the extent that you lose the ability to move.

Pain in the small pelvis: often seen with endometriosis. Painful aching intensifies and weakens depending on the days of ovulation, reaches its peak during menstruation.

Abdominal pain: involves a variety of pathologies of the intestines and other abdominal organs, is spastic or aching, made worse by stress, and often accompanied by stool disorders (constipation).

Muscle pain: chronic stress causes muscle strain that is invisible to humans. The vessels get compressed due to an increased muscle tone. Blood flow decreases to the muscles and congestion occurs, which increases the discomfort.

Is it all in the head?

Headaches of psychological origin deserve special attention. Depression, stress, or anxiety disorder causes pain receptor hypersensitivity. With this condition, pain can be caused by anything, and even putting on clothes can become impossible. A characteristic symptom is a change in localization, followed by a headache, and then pain spreading to other parts of the body such as a hand, a knee, teeth, etc.

More than 50 percent of patients diagnosed with clinical depression are prone to chronic pain. It's a vicious circle. At first, pain can develop as a distraction after psychological trauma, but it then causes a further cycle of depression.

The result is a strong connection between pain and depression, which is also strengthened by the phenomena of muscle spasms that can worsen existing chronic pain syndrome.

How to manage pain?

First of all, do not take painkillers uncontrollably and on your own initiative. Second, have a full medical examination to exclude active forms of diseases or find the true cause of pain and work directly with it. You should proceed to the treatment of chronic pain as a separate disease only if no diseases have been identified and the pain is so strong that it is seriously detrimental to your life.

What do doctors recommend?

Your doctor will first prescribe medication to relieve the pain. Relieving the pain can help your body rest—especially the brain and nervous system. By getting rid of the exhausting pain, you will be able to rest, move more, and sleep better. You will also gradually reduce the need for painkillers as the body recovers.

Other effective measures include the restoration of joint mobility, removal of muscle and vascular spasms.

Massages, physiotherapy, swimming, stretching, yoga, and soft flexibility exercises will help greatly in alleviating pain.

Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, and it is wise to follow this guidance. Remember, unexplained physiological pain is primarily mental.

Of course, when treating chronic pain of any origin, you should avoid any stressful situations, lead a healthy lifestyle, eat right, walk more, and gradually increase your physical activity. Your doctor may also recommend that you go to a spa or rehabilitation center for a month. Disconnecting from household worries and daily activities will lead to a faster recovery from pain.

23 March 2021

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