Washington State University researchers found that more people suffer from chronic pain than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. One of every five Americans is all too familiar with this debilitating complaint. Rates among women and seniors exceed the overall 100 million mark. Many patients take Cymbalta (Duloxetine) to treat low back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and diabetic neuropathy. In addition to helping you comprehend this public health crisis better, offer more ways to cope with this chronic condition.
Experiencing the Condition
“That beast.” “Torture.” “The end of my life as I know it.” These are just some of the patient descriptions for chronic pain that nurse practitioner Cindie Dodenbier, who specializes in pain management, has heard. Common pain types that last over three months consist of lower back pain, headaches, neck pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, post-shingles nerve pain, and chronic fatigue. Dodenbier says that chronic pain has outlasted its role as the body’s protective response mechanism to become an aggravating and excruciating ongoing condition of its own. You may isolate yourself and avoid all physical activities in fear that they’ll exacerbate your agony. Constant pain may cause irritability, anxiety, and depression. It can alter your functioning, work schedule, quality of life, outlook, family dynamics, and socialization.
Understanding the Problem
Physical therapist Dr. Nathan Savage describes chronic pain’s two main causes. First, an injury, degenerative tissue transformation, overuse, or other problem damages tissues or structures, where peripheral sensitization pain originates. Examples include a strained muscle, sprained ligament, or repetitive motion injury. Although it tends to resolve before becoming chronic, that isn’t always the case. Basically, pain is your warning system that tissue damage or injury is underway. But the second and more common chronic type, central sensitization, occurs when you perceive pain in bodily regions without appreciable physical evidence. Structural alternations in your brain and nervous system influence what you sense and experience as painful. So people in the throes of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, or other similar conditions may lack damage or injury in areas where they report feeling pain. A traumatic auto accident, work injury, fall, surgery, or multiple operations in the same body region can trigger chronic pain. Dodenbier notes that your unique hardwiring affects the amount of suffering you’ll experience. The same type of surgery might not produce any residual discomfort in one person whereas it may instigate chronic pain in another person or a body type. Unfortunately, Dodenbier admits that medical professionals can’t always predict which patients could or might not feel chronic pain.
Dodenbier and Savage note that while many people have dismissed fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue as fake illnesses, research has confirmed their very real and agonizing existence. Some people stigmatized sufferers for faking pain and not facing life’s realities. Sadly, these conditions can be debilitating if you don’t understand and treat them properly, Dodenbier says. For years, the medical profession lacked the knowledge to treat these two conditions well, so providers addressed symptoms and patients’ concerns rather than their complete illnesses. Now, various medical professionals can educate you about your condition and pain types and recommend an appropriate workout program. Physical therapists specialize in restoring movements and functions through exercise. Savage advises that chronic pain requires monitoring with appropriate activity progressions that don’t overwork your tissues and increase your torment. Try walking, swimming, and other aerobic exercises that your body can tolerate well. Your program should lead to functional improvements by enhancing soft tissue and muscular strength. Both experts emphasize the importance of addressing your mental as well as physical needs. Your primary care physician, physical therapist, pain specialist, mental health provider, and supportive friends and family are all key players in your quest for relief. This team can help you learn how to manage and support yourself to regain your function and reclaim your quality of life safely.
Advocating for Improved Care
Pain-care advocate Cindy Steinberg describes this chronic condition as worse than a life prison sentence (see video below). The daily torture is nonstop. She knows this from personal experience with back pain following a work injury. Most sufferers transition through the typical grief stages, mourning the loss of their former selves. Chronic pain is the top American reason for doctor visits. But Steinberg claims that physicians don’t have enough specialized training, and research funds are inadequate. So her mission is to improve pain care for Americans. As chair of the Massachusetts Pain Council, she was instrumental in the passing of a regulation requiring continuing pain management education for health care professionals to renew their medical licenses. As the U.S. Pain Foundation’s national director of policy and advocacy, Steinberg promotes its various on dealing with pain. It’s essential to discover every option to manage your pain including yoga, tai chi, exercise, and hypnosis. You may need to test many because Steinberg says that your individual solution is the right combination of treatments and approaches that brings you relief.