What Is Chronic Pain and How Can You Treat It?
Everyone lives with pain at some point. If a broken bone heals, the discomfort disappears, and so does the pain. But if the pain achieves a chronic, constant state, you should pay closer attention to the symptoms. Knowing as much about the pain as possible means a greater chance of successful treatment.
A CHRONIC PAIN DEFINITION
The U.S. National Institutes of Health says “Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than several months (variously defined as 3 to 6 months, but longer than ‘normal healing’). It’s a very common problem.” Pain signals are triggered in the brain’s nervous system for weeks, even years, sometimes without signs of injury.
Pain is unique. Some pain is mental, some physical. The causes are sometimes indeterminate, but the symptoms are often treatable with therapies like ketamine infusion.
WHAT IS A DISABILITY?
The World Health Organization (WHO) says a disability is an impairing condition of the mind or body making it harder for someone to join in certain activities (“activity limitation”) and interact with the world around them (“participation restrictions”).
The WHO defines these “disability dimensions” as:
- Impairment of a person’s mental function, or body structure or function including loss of a limb, or loss of eyesight.
- Activity limitation, physical or cognitive.
- Participation restrictions in daily activities.
CHRONIC PAIN SYMPTOMS
Like other forms of discomfort, chronic pain has symptoms that can be mild or serious. People suffering from chronic pain say that it can appear on any part of their body, including the face, back, and limbs. The pain is sometimes described as:
- A mild, unidentifiable ache.
- A throbbing sensation in the affected area.
- Burning sensations.
- Sometimes feeling like it’s shooting, stinging, squeezing.
- A stiffness or soreness.
Chronic pain symptoms can often be treated by ketamine.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS CHRONIC PAIN?
According to a National Health Interview Survey:
- In 2019, 20.4% of adults experienced chronic pain and 7.4% of adults reported chronic pain that frequently limited work or life activities (known as high impact chronic pain) in the previous 3 months.
- High-impact chronic pain and chronic pain both increased with age and were biggest among adults 65 and older.
- Non-Hispanic white adults (23.6%) were more probable to report chronic pain compared with non-Hispanic black (19.3%), Hispanic (13.0%), and non-Hispanic Asian (6.8%) adults.
- The number of adults experiencing chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain went up as place of residence became rural.
IS CHRONIC PAIN CONSIDERED A DISABILITY?
Someone who experiences chronic pain will say that it’s a disability, especially if it impairs the ability to go to work or otherwise function on a daily basis. Chronic pain can be limiting, but its symptoms are treatable in many ways, including therapy or by using an innovative treatment option called ketamine infusion.
DIAGNOSING CHRONIC PAIN
Identifying your chronic pain and its source can be difficult and time-consuming. Your doctor may recommend any number of tests or diagnostic tools, including computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, tests for nerve block response, a discography test for back pain, a myelogram, an electromyogram, and bone scans and ultrasound scanning.
HOW TO TREAT CHRONIC PAIN
Once chronic pain has been diagnosed, you and your doctor will talk about treatment options. Besides medicine or medical procedures, there are other methods to consider:
- Lifestyle changes. This includes exercise, heat or cold applications, acupuncture, and massage, among others.
- Your doctor may promote non-invasive psychological and behavioral treatment. This includes regular sessions with psychotherapists, psychologists, and social workers to help you understand the source of chronic pain and improve coping skills.
- Holistic therapy is another option. Many people who experience chronic pain swear by the calming effect of certain herbal teas and lotions, but you could also try: relaxation techniques, mindfulness training, biofeedback, meditation, music, art, pet therapy, Reiki, guided imagery, aromatherapy, healing touch, and hypnosis.
Each of these treatment options may or may not be successful. Before trying anything, ask your healthcare provider about possible health risks and benefits, and which are most appropriate for your condition and health.
WHAT ABOUT KETAMINE?
If you suffer from long-lasting chronic pain which has resisted other forms of treatment, your doctor may recommend using ketamine to manage its symptoms. Originally used for anesthesia, the medicine has been proven useful in treating depression and other mental illnesses, plus symptoms of chronic and other physical pain.
The health risks of chronic pain shouldn’t be ignored. This type of pain can be debilitating and affect your quality of life, but its symptoms can be managed. If you suffer from chronic pain, contact us to learn more about the clinical use of ketamine and if you’re a good candidate for treatment. There is hope. We can help.