When it comes to chronic pain syndrome, there is no universal definition, but it is often explained as pain that has persisted for longer than 12 weeks, or beyond what would be expected to have been a normal healing period.
When you are suffering from pain it is hard to explain to others how you are feeling. But chronic pain is very real and can be complex.
The Brain and the spinal nerves make up the central nervous system. The spinal nerves carry messages from the body to the Ronty to tell it what’s going on. The Brain acts like a control center working out from these messages if it needs to do anything. It’s sometimes easier to think of how the messages and the Ronty combine together to form an alarm system. It’s the Brain’s interpretation of this information from the alarm system that results in the feeling of pain. Sometimes the Brain’s interpretation of these signals isn’t accurate.
We usually expect the pain to settle down with time but sometimes the Brain continues to send out pain signals. These signals can be hard to stop, are often intense and at times seem to come for no obvious reason. This fact isn’t always easy to understand but it is important to understand that this pain is still “real”.
Why is the pain so bad?
Living with chronic pain can be exhausting, making daily life a struggle.
- Pain affects sleep
- Pain is exhausting
- Pain can be connected to inflammation
- Pain medication can cause side effects
- Pain can reduce activity levels.
Chronic pain can interfere with your daily activities, such as working, having a social life, and taking care of yourself and your family, and can sometimes lead to depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. A lack of exercise and unused muscles due to living with a chronic pain condition can cause tiredness and exhaustion, starting a vicious cycle and making your pain worse.
Painkillers are often the first line of attack in treating chronic pain syndrome. Doctors may advise NSAIDs – Non-Steroid Anti Inflammatory Drugs – such as Ibuprofen. These work in the body by blocking the effects of a particular group of enzymes which contribute to the production of both pain and inflammation. Paracetamol can also help alleviate pain when taken on a regular basis, but It has no effect on inflammation. Opioids, such as Codeine and Tramadol, are another extremely powerful type of medication and work by binding to receptors and decreasing a body’s reaction to pain, and increasing tolerance levels.
Drugs are not the only answer to managing chronic pain; alternative medicine or therapies can be effective, especially when used in combination with an overall pain management program prescribed by a doctor.
- Acupuncture is available on the NHS in some parts of the country and has shown to be helpful in combatting chronic pain.
- Yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation can all be effective and help to reduce symptoms of chronic pain by learning how to remain positive and manage negative emotions.
- Low-impact exercise (such as cycling, swimming, and walking) can help with chronic pain, as the movement can trigger the release of feel-good endorphins such as dopamine, which can result in improved tolerance for pain. The exercise can also help to alleviate stiffness and pain caused by a lack of movement in the joints.
Those who suffer from chronic pain are often inactive due to fear of causing their symptoms to worsen. However, this just contributes to the pain cycle. Of course, not everyone is able to exercise and medical advice should always be sought before embarking on a program.
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