If you or someone you love experiences chronic pain you are most likely aware of how it can affect your daily life. It is our hope that information contained in this website will help lead you to a better understanding of chronic pain and provide you with the resources you may need to heal. The information and techniques found on the following pages are not meant to replace the pain treatments you already use. You should continue to work with your healthcare provider to address any physical health problems you experience, including pain. You should contact a medical professional if you have severe or unexplained pain.
The first step in understanding chronic pain is to realize that it has both physical and mental factors and that everyone has a unique tolerance to pain. Historically, chronic pain conditions are often undertreated and mismanaged. According to the American Academy of Pain Management, pain is a silent epidemic in the United States. Over 50 million Americans live with chronic pain caused by disease, disorder or accident. Approximately two thirds of these individuals in pain have been living with this pain for more than five years.
- Pain is defined as an unpleasant feeling and emotional experience related to damage or injury of the body (drugs.com). This sensation can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. It is both a sensory and emotional experience arising from actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage (International Association of the Study of Pain). No matter how pain is defined, it may be a signal that something is wrong with your body.
- Acute pain is pain that comes on suddenly as a result of an illness or injury. It can usually be treated and lasts for a short period of time. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months. It resolves when the underlying cause of pain has been treated. Untreated acute pain may become chronic (American Pain Foundation). Examples of acute pain are pain from surgery, broken bones, dental work, cuts or burns and labor and childbirth.
- Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond the usual healing time for illness or injury. It can last from months to years, can go away completely at times or can remain constant. The pain can be intermittent, occurring in waves or patterns, or can be persistent, lasting twelve hours or more every day for more than three months. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, fatigue, anxiety and fear of re-injury. Examples of chronic pain are headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurological pain, tendonitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome. (WebMD)
If you or a loved one experience chronic pain, you are aware that at times it is difficult to be precise in a description of a person’s chronic pain and how it affects that person. This is a pain that does not go away and is often described as shooting, burning, aching, and dull. It can be described as numbness, jabbing, throbbing, tingling, soreness and/or stiffness. Symptoms may include fatigue, insomnia, isolation, weakened immune system and/or feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and stress (WebMD) The source of pain may be a chronic condition such as arthritis or cancer. Chronic pain can be very complex with multiple physical and emotional sources.
An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from persistent pain each year (American Pain Foundation). It affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Seventy six million people suffer from pain (National Centers for Health Statistics). Pain is the second leading cause of medically related work absenteeism, resulting in more than 50 million lost work days each year (American Pain Society). Pain costs an estimated $100 billion annually. Every day, sixty percent of men and women experience some pain (AACPI).
An interdisciplinary team approach to chronic pain management is most often the best approach for success. The person in pain must take an active role in healing and working with the team. The American Chronic Pain Association recommends that team members beyond the person experiencing the pain may include physicians, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, nutritionists and significant others.
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