Chronic pain is any pain that is persistent, and lasts anything between one to two weeks, to months and even years. It can vary in intensity from becoming mild to debilitating, continuous or episodic, superficial to deep.
Recognising chronic pain: what are the symptoms?
- Mild to severe pain that does not go away
- Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electric
- Feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness
- Weakened immune system
- Feelings of hopelessness, irritability, depression and anxiety
Whatever the case, the pain itself is real and not imagined. Because it is a subjective experience, you might find yourself being told by family and friends that your symptoms are partly 'in the mind' and being exaggerated. Your doctor might indicate that being unable to find the source of your pain, it might not be as bad as you think. Because the pain cannot be measured, it can be difficult to localise and diagnose which is why your doctor may not be able to give you an explanation.
Depending on severity of symptoms, the quality of your life may be compromised, ranging from having to live with dull pain as a backdrop to daily life, to being severely incapacitated, unable to hold down a job or career, and dependent on others as carers. Each person's threshold and resilience to pain varies but whatever the case improvement of daily life through the treatment and management of pain is vital.
You may be doing your best with coping strategies such as taking painkillers and hiding the fact of your pain from others, but this is simply masking the symptoms. Debilitating emotional states such as depression and anxiety can easily overcome this fragile existence, undermining positive thinking and causing you to sink into a cycle of despair and pessimism.
Treating chronic pain: what are the options available?
If, once you have had treatable organic causes of your pain excluded and treated, your pain persists or gets worse, then it is worth considering whether your chronic pain is actually a stress illness - this is a condition I can help you with.
Make an appointment to see me for an assessment and advice regarding treatment options.