Blog 9/28/2017

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: Living with Chronic Pain

Successful treatment of chronic pain requires choosing a life-long plan of wellness that may include doctor services, physical therapy, psychological interventions, and occupational therapy.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that continues beyond the expected period of healing for an illness or injury. In chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years.

What are the effects of chronic pain?

Chronic pain can lead to a chronic stress reaction that causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. This stress reaction can lead to harmful health effects, such as a reduced ability to fight off illnesses and diseases. It also can increase the risk for conditions such as heart disease.

Chronic pain’s physical effects include:

  • Tense muscles
  • Limited ability to move about
  • Lack of energy, and
  • Changes in appetite.

The emotional effects include:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of re-injury.

How is chronic pain treated?

The ideal treatment for chronic pain is a broad approach that addresses a person’s physical, emotional, and mental needs.

Successful treatment requires choosing a life-long plan of wellness that might include:

  • Treatment from a doctor
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychological treatments
  • Occupational therapy

What are some self-management tips for a person living with chronic pain? 

  • Learn how to relax through deep breathing and other stress management techniques.
  • Set achievable goals and don’t overdo it on good days. Learn to pace yourself.
  • Focus on positive thoughts.
  • Set a daily schedule that includes time for rest, exercise, and relaxation.
  • Know your medicines, including expected benefits and side effects.
  • Take all medicines as they are prescribed, but don’t hesitate to ask questions. Ask if the medicine that is prescribed is meant to treat symptoms or to manage an underlying disease.

To manage chronic pain, all aspects of a person’s physical and emotional health must be considered. When chronic pain is managed effectively, a person can return to a more productive and fulfilling lifestyle.

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