Chronic pain is a silent epidemic affecting millions. In fact, a study on chronic pain suggested that one third of the US population may be suffering the effects of chronic pain and trying to find ways to manage it.
The difficulty with chronic pain management stems from its very personal and subjective experience. Pain cannot be tested for or located with ease if it does not stem from a visible injury, which makes identifying the cause and treating the issue immensely difficult.
While patients of chronic pain understand the limitations of the medical community to locate the source of their pain, they still need to live daily with often debilitating suffering.
Those suffering from chronic pain often feel isolated and depressed, can lose their jobs, and can turn to self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or food to help cope with the pain and with the emotions it causes.
Managing Chronic Pain
While doctors continue to search for ways to end chronic pain, they must also treat the patients they have which are currently suffering. Programs to manage chronic can fall short for the following reasons:
- They aren’t comprehensive enough
- They don’t take into account the mind
- They rely too much on chemicals
They aren’t comprehensive enough
Chronic pain, unlike acute pain, is not centered on one spot. This means that treating only one aspect of chronic pain will fall short of helping.
Chronic pain is not only physical; it is also emotional and psychological. Trying to treat chronic pain with, say, only chemical painkillers will help numb the pain, but will not help with the fatigue, mental anguish and malaise that it causes. To better help patients cope, doctors should look to involve aspects of mental and physical relaxation as well as painkillers.
They don’t take into account the mind
The emotional and psychological impacts of chronic pain can be truly devastating. Not only can it cause depression and increased feelings of negativity, but it can also lead to a symptom known as “pain catastrophising”, which can make the patient feel that their pain is being magnified. This can mean that sufferers from chronic pain will stop doing anything physical at the worry that it will cause them more suffering. Unfortunately, loss of movement (such as walking and stretching), not only increases pain and stiffness, but also can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety and depression that are often associated with chronic pain.
They rely too much on chemicals
For many years, pain was singularly treated with potent, chemically derived painkillers, such as opiates. While this class of drugs is incredibly important in pain management in a proper medical setting, they also run the risk of being highly addictive and dangerous.
It is only in recent years that medical professionals are considering other, more natural approaches to pain management. Along with substances such as kratom and other herbs, doctors are also encouraging patients to find out more about medical marijuana use. Medical marijuana can provide twofold relief in its treatment of anxiety and depression, as well as pain, stiffness, and loss of sleep.