Published on September 07, 2018

Managing Chronic Pain – Safely

Often referred to as a silent epidemic, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. In fact, chronic pain affects more people than stroke, diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Many people suffer chronic pain without a past injury or evidence of illness. While acute pain is a normal sensation that is triggered in the nervous system to signal a possible injury, chronic pain is different and often persists for weeks, months, or years. The associated pain is a discomforting feeling such as a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache and can be sharp or dull. Chronic pain typically persists for more than 12 weeks and has various causes.

Although chronic pain is often associated with aging, it’s important to understand your pain and how it specifically affects your ability to live a life that is fulfilling. Understanding your pain and what techniques or activities can cause discomfort is important to determine which treatments are most effective. With increased focus on pain management due to the opioid epidemic, there are a multitude of options and strategies being discussed in print and digital forums. So, let’s take a closer look at what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to pain management?

Facts

  • Weather can affect pain – Have you noticed that your joint pain worsens when it’s cold or raining? It may not be a figment of your imagination. Changes in air pressure can cause some people ― especially those with arthritis ― to have increased pain in their joints.
  • Losing weight can ease pain – If you’re overweight, losing weight means less pressure on your joints and back. Speak with your doctor about what are the best and safest ways to lose weight.
  • Your attitude can affect pain! – Don’t let your pain control your outlook on life. Remain positive and be aware of how pain affects you so that you can best manage your symptoms.

Myths

  • Lots of rest is good for back pain – Although your doctor may recommend short periods of rest, it’s best to stay active. When pain is intense, you should limit your exercise, but keeping your body in good condition helps with movement in painful areas.
  • Pain is a part of aging – Chronic pain is not like gray hair and wrinkles. You might not feel as good as when you were younger, but if you’re in pain every day, it’s important to talk with your doctor to help find relief.
  • Pain killers lead to addiction – Prescription pain medications, when used as directed, rarely cause addiction. A good way to differentiate different types of pain is to record the severity of your pain often so that you can understand how to personalize treatment options that best fit your needs.

The goal of pain management will depend on the specific types of pain you experience. One common philosophy among pain management approaches is that you can do something to control pain. Pain management is designed to treat chronic pain and allow people to live full, enjoyable lives.