CHRONIC PAIN MANAGEMENTChronic pain is typically pain that lasts 3 or more months. Our team of Physiotherapists and Kinesiologists specialize in a holistic approach to healing through improving functional impairments caused by an injury or disability.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is generally pain that lasts longer than the typical time it takes for normal tissue healing (normal tissue healing generally takes somewhere between 6-12 weeks). We would usually consider pain to be chronic in nature if it lasts at least 3 months or longer. Chronic pain can last months, years or even decades.
Another term commonly used for chronic pain is neuropathic pain. This is when the nervous system is not working properly and sends pain signals to the brain, even though there may not be any tissue injury.
Chronic pain in contrast to nociceptive pain. Nociceptive pain is when physical tissue damage has occurred. It is named such because of nociceptors (nerves) in the body made specifically for detecting physical or mechanical damage to skin, bones, muscles and organs. Examples of nociceptive pain include pain induced by a bruise, fracture, cut/laceration or blow to the body. This type of pain can also be caused by extreme heat/cold or chemical burns.
Chronic pain will typically occur after you’ve suffered an injury or health condition, but not always. It can sometimes come out of the blue. It can be very mild to severe, affecting all facets of your lifestyle. In severe cases, chronic pain can have extremely detrimental effects on your mental health, especially if left undiagnosed and without a good support team of healthcare professionals guiding you through your recovery.
How do I know if I have chronic pain?
Chronic pain is typically pain that lasts 3 or more months. If you’re unsure, a healthcare professional can assist you with a diagnosis.
What causes chronic pain?
In many cases, the cause of chronic pain can be very difficult to diagnose. Typically it is caused by an injury that was left untreated. However, nerve damage can also be a common culprit.
Diseases can also cause chronic pain such as cancer, the various forms of arthritis, obesity, MS and many more.
What are the symptoms of chronic pain?
Symptoms of chronic pain can include:
If chronic pain is left untreated, symptoms can also include
- A feeling of general malaise – fatigue or constantly feeling burnt out
- Sleeplessness (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
- Mood swings
- Decreased energy
Can you prevent chronic pain?
If we take chronic back pain as an example, we could look at several things that could be done to help prevent this problem from becoming chronic:
• Keeping yourself at a healthy weight (to prevent excessive wear and tear of your knees, hips and other joints)
• Learning correct lifting techniques
• Regular weight training and mobility exercises
Also, checking in regularly with a healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist and kinesiologist when you experience an injury early can also help.
What happens if chronic pain is left untreated?
As the name suggests, chronic pain that is untreated will be even more chronic, meaning it will last longer and longer. The pain can even grow in intensity and can potentially spread to other areas of the body that were previously unaffected.
Mental health can also start being impacted negatively and it is common to see depression as a natural side effect to chronic pain that is left untreated for many years. Sleep and eating disorders are another side effect that can be seen when chronic pain is left untreated.
What’s the best treatment for chronic pain?
The treatments for chronic pain are as varied as there are causes. Drug therapies may work for many people. If you’re considering this approach, speaking with your doctor would be the next step. Your doctor will likely want to assess your mental health as well, since many people who suffer from chronic pain may suffer from mental health disorders as well.
Depending on who you speak to (and considering you’re reading this article written by a physical therapist), physiotherapy and kinesiology are both great non-invasive ways to get help. Physical therapists and kinesiologists specialize in a holistic approach to healing through improving functional impairments caused by an injury or disability. A good physiotherapist or kinesiologist will encompass exercise into your treatment.
Exercise is proven to help with chronic pain by improving muscle tone, strength, mobility and flexibility. In addition, exercises are known to help release endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.