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When is Pain Considered Chronic?

Pain is a normal part of the healing process and often keeps us from potentially harming ourselves further. On the other hand, unexplained or prolonged pain is a sign that something is amiss in the body. Normal pain subsides as the body heals. Pain that outlasts the body’s healing process indicates chronic pain syndrome (CPS). 

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is a severe and potentially debilitating condition. Chronic pain puts enormous stress on the body and mind, leading to depression and other mood disorders in many cases. Per the Mayo Clinic, “Chronic pain can limit your quality of life and lead to additional, serious mental health problems. Finding effective treatment is important–as is balancing pain relief with your safety.” 

While it can be challenging to treat, it’s not impossible. Continue reading to learn more about CPS and ways to treat it. Understanding is the first step to healing.

Signs Chronic Pain is Affecting Your Life

CPS affects people physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some symptoms include: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle strains
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Burning sensation
  • Irritability 

Types of Chronic Pain Syndrome Treatable with Ketamine Infusions

Migraine

Migraines affect over 1 billion people across the globe and are the second most common neurological disorder. These severe headaches are recurrent and disabling. Intense pain and other unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue separate migraines from average tension headaches. According to an article in Nature, migraines are “responsible for more disability than all other neurological disorders combined.”

Migraine symptoms occur over four stages: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Each phase’s symptoms can make dealing with migraines life-disrupting. While scientists are making headway, much remains unknown about what causes migraines.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating chronic pain condition that can cause widespread muscle pain, fatigue, tenderness, and “brain fog.” According to the CDC, it affects an estimated 4 million Americans, most of whom are women.

It is unclear what brings on the fibromyalgia, but a handful of other conditions are associated with its onset:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Chronic back pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Neuropathy

Diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy in the U.S. Neuropathy originates from problems in the peripheral nervous system. Think of your nervous system as having two interlocking parts: the central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system comprises the brain and spinal cord, and is responsible for cognition and automatic organ function. Conversely, the peripheral nervous system assists the central nervous system by sending signals throughout the body. This network of nerves carries signals throughout the body to and from the brain and spinal cord. 

Someone with neuropathic pain may experience: 

  • Shooting, burning, or stabbing pain
  • Tingling pain
  • Numbness or “pins and needles” feeling
  • Spontaneous pain
  • Evoked pain is pain caused by things that usually don’t trigger pain
  • Chronic sense of feeling unpleasant or abnormal
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Emotional problems that arise as a result of chronic pain and loss of sleep

CRPS

CRPS shows up in many ways for different individuals, but the most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Sensitivity to cold or touch
  • Changes to the skin and nail beds
  • Continuous burning or throbbing pain, generally in the hands, feet, arms, or legs,  sometimes referred to as “pins and needles” 
  • Swelling of the injured or painful area
  • Decreased mobility to move the affected area

Managing Chronic Pain

Scientists are seeing that the leading cause of chronic pain is due to overactivity of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in the brain. Ketamine activates a neurotransmitter known as glutamate. This process inhibits the NMDA receptors, which diminishes the visceral experience of pain. By connecting to those receptors, ketamine may be able to amplify the number of glutamate neurotransmitters in the space between neurons.

Glutamate then interacts with the AMPA receptors. Together, these receptors discharge multiple molecules that boost the brain’s neuroplasticity — essentially, ketamine infusions allow the brain to reset and restore meaningful nerve connections.

Researchers are starting to see that the positive effects of many antidepressants may be a result of regulating glutamate, although less directly than ketamine. Because of this indirect process, SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants often take weeks to start improving symptoms of CRPS, if they do at all. Ketamine often produces results and relief from CRPS symptoms during the first session.

Final Thoughts

Chronic pain comes in many different forms and can be challenging to live with. The good news is that there’s something you can do about it!

Ketamine Clinic of West Texas’ mission is to provide personalized, high-quality care for patients suffering from significant physical and mental diagnoses. We establish individualized treatment goals and utilize ketamine infusion therapy to achieve these goals. Our patients’ safety and comfort are our highest priorities, followed closely by success in treatment.

 

 

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