Understanding Chronic Pain Management

A patient needs to undergo chronic pain management treatments to relieve his or her symptoms, try to minimize them or improve his or her quality of life. However, chronic pain treatment is not always successful, depending on the complexity and causes of the pain. Some types of pain, such as idiopathic chronic pain, are more challenging to treat than others, making it almost impossible to eliminate. Depending on the level and type of pain, patients may undergo mild or severe treatments, being opioids treatment the most severe kind.

Managing pain ranges from treatments as severe as an opioid prescription to simple painkillers, physical therapy and even psychological counseling. Depending on the chronic pain symptoms and causes, patients may need to undergo different types of treatment. For this reason, it is essential to understand the causes and symptoms of chronic pain to have a more in-depth insight into managing chronic pain. Read the informative sections below to learn more about symptoms, causes, and treatment for chronic pain. 

Chronic Pain Symptoms

Many chronic pain symptoms are severe and make it easy for patients and doctors to identify chronic pain. However, doctors only recommend chronic pain management for patients whose symptoms are persistent over prolonged periods, even if the symptoms are intermittent from time to time.

Persistence of symptoms is what differentiates chronic pain or chronic pain syndrome from acute pain. While chronic pain is persistent, acute pain is simply the sensory response to severe or mild injuries. This response typically wears out after a short period and with simple pain medications or rest. Chronic pain does not.

Moreover, chronic pain symptoms tend to manifest both in the body and the mind of the patient that is experiencing them. Even though most types of chronic pain tend to be constant over time, patients may experience more intense pain during times of stress, anxiety or depression. Common symptoms that patients experience include:

Because chronic pain symptoms tend to be more severe than other types of pain, the illness usually interferes with a patient’s quality of life and his or her lifestyle. Therefore, many common types of chronic pain lead to depression and other mental problems like anxiety. Patients should seek treatment as soon as they can when they experience mental wear down from the pain, as this only makes them more vulnerable to chronic symptoms that they are already feeling. 

Chronic Pain Causes

There are several chronic pain causes, which makes it complicated for doctors to accurately diagnose the type of chronic pain that a patient is suffering from. Chronic pain treatment will fail on a patient whose diagnosis is incorrect. For instance, while mental counseling sessions may help with chronic pain that derives from depression, it will not be effective against some types of neuropathic pain caused by nerve damage. 

There are different types of chronic pain, and each one has different causes. Chronic pain management with opioids tends to be effective for all types of chronic pain, but doctors tend to consider alternatives to this treatment due to its side effects and risks leading to addiction. Causes of chronic pain can be the following:

  • Nociceptive: This type of chronic pain derives from damage in the somatic or visceral tissue. Injuries or pre-existing conditions that affect soft tissue can cause nociceptive pain. These injuries send the message to nociceptor in the spinal cord and to the brain, which causes the sensation of pain to be sent back to other parts of the body. Osteoarthritis, cancer and back pain are some of the types of nociceptive chronic pain causes.
  • Neuropathic: Damage in the peripheral or central nerves chronic neuropathic pain. Therefore, conditions that affect the nerves directly will cause this type of chronic pain. Some physical damage to regions close to nerve connections, such as sciatica, will cause neuropathic pain. Prescription medication that will influence nervous connections and messages between nerves tend to be more effective for this type of pain. 
  • Hypersensitivity: Conditions like fibromyalgia affect the nerves and chemical processes in the body, making it more sensitive. This causes the patient to suffer chronic pain in different parts of his or her body. Neuronal dysregulations tend to be the leading cause for this type of pain, and chronic pain treatment to regulate the nervous system is often the best alternative to treat this type of pain. 
  • Psychological or Idiopathic: Caused by depression or pre-existing pain disorders. Physical or neural injury is harder to identify. 

Tips for Chronic Pain Management

The type of chronic pain management, therefore, will be different depending on the kind of pain a patient experiences. Not that you are more familiar with the types of chronic pain, it will be easier for you to understand the types of treatment doctors recommend their patient, and why some treatments tend to be more effective than others.

It is essential that you also understand that chronic pain management is the most viable option for chronic pain as there is no known cure to this ailment. Chronic pain treatment is the best alternative as it tends to relieve and minimize pain while improving the patient’s quality of life. Doctors tend to treat underlying conditions of the pain first before treating the chronic pain itself. For instance, cancer is causing chronic visceral pain, which patients may feel in their internal organs. By removing a tumor, the patients may be relieved from the pain.

Management of chronic pain will continue if the pain persists. Most treatments focus on lifestyle changes and strive to improve the patient’s ability to self-manage the pain. Most plans also include psychological counseling if the pain is derived from depression or to prevent the patient from becoming more vulnerable to other symptoms due to stress and anxiety.

Moreover, chronic pain management also involves the prescription of one or more analgesics to help the patient endure the pain or minimize the sensory discomfort. Conventional chronic pain treatments also include topical products, antidepressants and muscle relaxants to help relieve the pain. However, analgesics tend to be a more effective treatment for more serious chronic pain symptoms.

Chronic pain treatment with non-narcotic pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen will help with mild and moderate chronic pain cases. Doctors will recommend chronic pain management with narcotics in instances where the pain is too extreme to endure. These opioids help the patient not feel any pain at all as the drugs affect the neurotransmitters and chemical receptors of the nerves. For this reason, these drugs are potent and can cause addiction or side effects, primarily when they are used with alcohol or other medication.

Less invasive and more natural alternatives for chronic pain management include physical and psychological therapy, exercise and even meditation to help the patient manage the pain.