Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years.
Pain is a sign that something has happened, that something is wrong. Acute pain happens quickly and goes away when there is no cause, but chronic pain lasts longer than six months and can continue when the injury or illness has been treated.
Chronic pain is a condition where one feels continuous pain anywhere on the body that can last for years, usually due to dysfunctional nerves, or is an illness that is particularly cruel to the youth because it can take away things from lives that have not experienced most of what life has to offer yet.
In the slightest of cases, it can mean that a child will have to live with a physical discomfort most of the time, likely for the rest of their lives. In a severe case, a child will have to live with a debilitating illness that ties them to a bottle of pills and limits their ability to do even the most basic tasks for the rest of their lives.
Chronic pain is a tricky illness to overcome in children, due to the reality that if doctors cannot pinpoint a visible cause for pain, they likely have to take the patient’s word for it and operate from there.
With Chronic Pain, you often can’t find any specific reason for it. Because the original injury has gone away and yet the patient still has pain. And they say they have pain but you can’t point to anything that’s really causing that pain. In fact, a lot of it may be psychologically generated, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a real pain.”
Some cases of Chronic Pain can take years and thousands of dollars from families, just to get an indication of what is ailing their child.
It is imperative to address the pain that children with Chronic Pain go through because in many cases, it can mean death. Chronic pain can take away family and friend time, hobbies, sports, normal daily functions, enjoyment of life, and more from a child that has yet to experience most of what life can offer so far. For some patients, when the cycle of pain, doctors, and more pain starts to wear on them, suicide starts becoming a real option for them.
The prevalence of suicidal ideation in chronic pain patients is about three times as great as among those who do not suffer from chronic pain. Indeed, the individual may perceive suicide as the only means of escaping physical and/or emotional pain. Chronic pain patients are at double the risk of suicide compared to others not in chronic pain, with a lifetime prevalence of attempted suicide ranging from 5% to 14%.
chronic pain is a significant problem with conservative estimates that posit 20% to 35% of children and adolescents affected by it worldwide.” It is important for those who suffer from this illness and even for those who don’t to understand that those who have Chronic Pain are not alone in their struggle and that there is support, even if they may not see it. Bowtie Kids is a non-profit with the sole purpose of empowering and supporting children living with chronic pain to find purpose and enjoyment in life.
What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?
Acute pain usually comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific. It is sharp in quality. Acute pain usually doesn’t last longer than six months. It goes away when there is no longer an underlying cause for the pain. Causes of acute pain include:
- Broken bones.
- Dental work.
- Burns or cuts.
- Labor and childbirth
After acute pain goes away, you can go on with life as usual.
Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Some people suffer chronic pain even when there is no past injury or apparent body damage.
Chronic pain is linked to conditions that include:
- Nerve pain
- Back pain
If you have chronic pain, the stress affects the body, producing physical conditions like:
- Tense muscles
- Limited ability to move around.
- A lack of energy
- Changes in appetite
Chronic pain also causes emotional effects, including:
- Fear of re-injury. This fear could limit your ability to return to work or leisure activities
How common is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a very common condition, and one of the most common reasons why someone seeks medical care. Approximately 25% of adults in the United States experience chronic pain.
What causes chronic pain?
Sometimes chronic pain has an obvious cause. You may have a long-lasting illness such as arthritis or cancer that can cause ongoing pain.
Injuries and diseases can also cause changes to your body that leave you more sensitive to pain. These changes can stay in place even after you’ve healed from the original injury or disease. Something like a sprain, a broken bone, or a brief infection can leave you with chronic pain.
Some people also have chronic pain that’s not tied to an injury or physical illness. Healthcare providers call this response psychogenic pain or psychosomatic pain. It’s caused by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
What does chronic pain feel like?
People with chronic pain describe their pain in many different ways, such as:
How is chronic pain diagnosed?
Pain is considered to be chronic if it lasts or comes and goes (recurs) for more than three months. Pain is usually a symptom, so your healthcare provider needs to determine what’s causing your pain, if possible. Pain is subjective only the person experiencing it can identify and describe it so it can be difficult for providers to determine the cause.
If you have long-lasting pain, see your healthcare provider. Your provider will want to know:
· Where your pain is
· How intense it is, on a scale of 0 to 10
· How often does it occur
- How much it’s affecting your life and work.
- What makes it worse or better
- Whether you have a lot of stress or anxiety in your life
- Whether you’ve had any illnesses or surgeries
What tests are used to diagnose chronic pain?
Your healthcare provider may physically examine your body and order tests to look for the cause of the pain. They may have you undergo the following tests:
· Blood tests
· Electromyography to test muscle activity
· Imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRI
· Nerve conduction studies to see if your nerves are reacting properly
· Reflex and balance tests
· Spinal fluid tests
· Urine tests
How is chronic pain treated?
To relieve chronic pain, healthcare providers first try to identify and treat the cause. But sometimes they can’t find the source. If so, they turn to treating, or managing, the pain.
Healthcare providers treat chronic pain in many different ways. The approach depends on many factors, including:
· The type of pain you have
· The cause of your pain, if known
· Your age and overall health
The best treatment plans use a variety of strategies, including medications, lifestyle changes, and therapies. If you have chronic pain and depression and/or anxiety, it’s important to seek treatment for your mental health condition(s) as well. Having depression or anxiety can make your chronic pain worse. For example, if you have depression, the fatigue, sleep changes and decreased activity it may cause can make your chronic pain worse.
What medications can treat chronic pain?
Your healthcare provider may recommend certain medications to relieve chronic pain, including:
· Anticonvulsants (medications that prevent seizures) for nerve pain
· Antidepressants such as tricycle antidepressants
· Muscle relaxers
· No steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen
· Topical products (applied to the skin) that contain pain relievers or ingredients that create soothing heat or cold
· Opioid (narcotics), Opioid can be addictive, and you can build up a tolerance to them over time. Because of this, healthcare providers usually try other pain treatment options before prescribing Opioid
- Sedatives to help with anxiety or insomnia.
- Medical marijuana.
Other medical treatments your healthcare provider may have you try including
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This procedure delivers small shocks through patches on your skin. The electrical impulses can relieve pain
- Nerve blocks: For this treatment, your healthcare provider injects an anesthetic near the site of your pain to reduce feeling in the area. Nerve blocks can also sometimes provide diagnostic information and locate the source of your pain
- Epidural steroid injections: This procedure is an injection of anti-inflammatory medicine a steroid or corticosteroid into the space around your spinal nerves known as the epidural space to treat chronic pain caused by irritation and inflammation of spinal nerve roots.
Can therapy help with chronic pain?
Certain therapies may help you manage chronic pain, including:
· Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This counseling method helps you think differently about pain and teaches you ways to cope
· Counseling: Talk therapy can help you manage chronic pain, especially psychogenic pain
· Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy teaches you how to do everyday tasks differently to lessen pain or avoid injury
· Physical therapy: Physical therapy involves exercises that stretch and strengthen your body, which can help reduce your pain.
Is there a cure for chronic pain?
Currently, there is no cure for chronic pain, other than to identify and treat its cause. For example, treating arthritis can sometimes stop joint pain.
Many people with chronic pain don’t know its cause and can’t find a cure. They use a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes to lessen pain.
Can lifestyle changes help with chronic pain?
Four major lifestyle factors can affect your chronic pain and help minimize it. Healthcare providers sometimes call them the four pillars of chronic pain. They include:
· Stress: Stress can play a major role in chronic pain, so it’s important to try to reduce your stress as much as possible. Everyone has different techniques for managing their stress, but some techniques include meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing. Try different options until you find what works best for you
· Exercise: Participating in low-intensity exercises, such as walking or light swimming, for 30 minutes every day may help reduce your pain. Exercise can also be a stress reliever for some people, which is important to manage when you have chronic pain
· Diet: It’s important to eat a healthy diet to boost your overall health. Your healthcare provider may suggest trying an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating foods that cause inflammation, such as red meat and refined carbohydrates
· Sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is important for your overall health. A lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight, which could make your chronic pain worse. Getting quality sleep is also important for stress management.
Be sure to discuss these four lifestyle pillars with your healthcare provider to determine how each applies to your type of chronic pain and how you can incorporate changes into your day-to-day life.
Can chronic pain be prevented?
- Unfortunately, nothing has been proven to prevent chronic pain in general. You may be able to prevent certain conditions that lead to chronic pain. For example, you can quit smoking to lower your risk of lung cancer for your body.