You broke your finger, and you know the cause. There’s also a reasonable expectation that the digit will work again as designed once it heals. Six months later, your hand hurts, and you can’t figure out why. Within 12 months, the pain has moved to your other hand. What’s going on?
What Makes Pain Chronic?
Chronic pain is discomfort that lingers for more than three months. It can be a constant presence or come and go. If you suffer from chronic pain, you know that it can pop up anywhere on your body. It can restrict your daily activities, like working, social pursuits, and taking care of yourself or someone else. Chronic pain can trigger depression, anxiety, and sleep problems – worsening the pain in a cycle that’s hard to break.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Many different factors contribute to chronic pain. It could be the normal aging process, but other common causes are injuries and nerve damage that don’t heal as expected. Other causes:
- Years of bad posture
- Incorrectly lifting and transporting heavy items
- Obesity and the resulting strain on your back and knees
- Congenital conditions like the curvature of the spine
- Traumatic injury
- Regularly wearing high heels
- Sleeping on a worn mattress
- No obvious physical trigger
- Disease or illness
Chronic Pain Remedies
According to 2019 results from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, 20.4 percent of U.S. adults had chronic pain, and 7.4 percent said their pain limited their ability to function. This snapshot clarifies the overall impact it has on millions of lives.
But how do you solve the puzzle of chronic pain? Pain is different for everyone, with some people determined to plow through it as best they can so it doesn’t interfere with their daily responsibilities. Others, unfortunately, don’t have the resolve or physical or emotional tools needed to keep going and end up in a level of disability that affects their quality of life.
But there are many chronic pain remedies to consider:
- The American Association of Retired Persons promotes the benefits of exercise as a remedy for chronic pain. If your back is bothering you, try any number of exercises with clever names like “Kegel,” “Superman,” or “Bridge.” Simple walking can help with your knees, but how about straight leg raises half-squats or knee extensions? Hips are also favorite landing spots for chronic pain, but the hip extension, standing hip abduction, or the “Clamshell” may offer relief. Arm circles, planks, or the “shoulder blade squeeze” are recommended for chronic pain in the shoulders.
- Physical therapy helps to reduce pain through special techniques that enhance movement and function hampered due to an injury or disability. Recommended options may include stretching, strengthening, and pain-relieving techniques, but your physical therapist could use other strategies to lessen chronic pain.
- Try heat or ice as a chronic pain remedy. Applying an ice pack to a swollen or inflamed limb or joint could offer discomfort shortly after you strained a muscle, tendon, or ligament. Conversely, after the inflammation has subsided, heat can help decrease the stiffness associated with sprains and strains.
- Your doctor or clinician may recommend ketamine to treat chronic pain. It’s a kind of medicine that was first used as an anesthetic but is believed to reduce physical and psychological pain by improving how neurotransmitters in the brain work.
- Doctors, dieticians, and others promote the benefits of healthy eating to help manage chronic pain symptoms. Avoid processed or junk foods, caffeine, alcohol, foods with high-fructose corn syrup, and other foods with refined carbohydrates. Instead, focus on balanced meals, which include whole grains, healthy proteins, fruit, leafy green vegetables, and foods prepared in canola or olive oils.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Because of its very nature as non-specific and of questionable origins, chronic pain can be hard to diagnose. In most cases, you’ll need to see a medical doctor who may use diagnostic procedures like x-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, blood work, and neurological testing to determine the cause of pain. You may also be referred to a mental health specialist if there’s a suspicion your pain has a psychological component. For psychiatric assessment, tools like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders could be used to uncover the source of your pain.
Treatment could include medicine, therapy, or ketamine infusions to help manage your chronic pain.
If you suffer from chronic pain and aren’t ready to see a doctor, there are numerous home remedies you can try, including diet, exercise, acupuncture, herbal supplements, and other alternative treatment. If you’re interested in more innovative treatment options, contact us today to learn more.