Chronic pain can linger for months or years and affects every aspect of the body. It disrupts daily life and can take a toll on your mental health. When you have pain that won’t go away, investigating and treating the underlying problem is usually the initial step in treatment.
Dr. Evan Allen leads our team at Total Care Family Practice in Henderson, Nevada, and is devoted to providing top-tier preventive and acute care. Dr. Allen specializes in pain management and can help you get your pain under control so you can get back to living as pain-free as possible.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than three months. The pain may be present all of the time, or it may come and go. The pain can occur in any part of the body.
When you’re hurting, it can interfere with daily activities such as working, socializing, and caring for yourself or others. Pain can also disrupt your sleep and make it difficult to carry on with your regular daily activities.
Roughly 50 million people in the United States are living with chronic pain. That’s about 1 in 5 people.
When you have a sudden injury, such as a broken bone or cut, the pain is temporary. As the healing process progresses, pain resolves. Chronic pain, however, persists long after the injured area heals.
In some cases, the pain is related to the nerves themselves. For instance, nerve compression can cause chronic pain. Sometimes pain isn’t related to a specific injury, and may seem to arise without cause, or is related to the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue.
Treating the underlying cause of your chronic pain can help bring relief and improve your overall quality of life. Let’s discuss four common causes of chronic pain: neuropathy, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis.
Neuropathic pain differs from other kinds of pain. When a person breaks a bone, pain signals go from the location of the trauma to the brain via nerves. However, in the case of neuropathic pain, pain signals originate from the nerves themselves.
In some cases, nerves become injured or malfunction as a result of an accident or trauma, resulting in pain hypersensitivity. Even after the injury has healed, the nerves continue to send erroneous pain signals.
Diabetes is the most common underlying cause of neuropathy pain. Over time, high blood sugar damages nerves, preventing them from functioning properly.
Neuropathic pain is persistent and progressive, meaning it usually gets worse over time. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and slow the progression.
Nearly 60 million American adults are living with arthritis, which is characterized by joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Age-related wear and tear on the joints is the most common cause of arthritis. In other cases, an injury accelerates joint breakdown, and sometimes the immune system attacks healthy joints.
Stiff, achy joints can make it difficult to lead an active lifestyle, or even just get around freely. When it hurts to move around, the natural response is to reduce your activity. However, staying as active as possible can actually ease joint pain and stiffness.
Increased pain sensitivity is a hallmark of fibromyalgia. This chronic illness is characterized by widespread pain and discomfort, as well as exhaustion that isn’t resolved with adequate rest and that’s often compounded by sleeping difficulties.
People with fibromyalgia experience widespread pain throughout the body. Arms, legs, head, chest, and back are frequently affected. Sufferers describe the pain as aching, burning, or throbbing.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
Some patients with fibromyalgia also have digestive problems.
Your spinal cord and nerve roots travel through a small hollow space in the spine. A number of things, such as a bulging spinal disc, bone spurs, and arthritis, can cause this space to narrow, compressing the nerve roots and causing persistent pain.
Spinal stenosis most often affects the lumbar region, causing low back pain. However, it can occur anywhere along the spine.
To alleviate chronic pain, the goal is to first identify and address the underlying cause. However, there are situations where no cause is found. If this is the case, Dr. Allen focuses on controlling your pain so that you feel better.
Chronic pain is treated in a variety of ways. Many factors influence the approach, including:
The most effective treatment regimens utilize a combination of treatments, including medications and lifestyle changes.
If you experience chronic pain as well as depression and/or anxiety, it’s especially crucial that you seek treatment because chronic pain can be made worse by sadness or anxiety. For example, if you suffer from depression, the weariness, sleep disruptions, and decreased activity that it might bring can exacerbate your chronic pain.
Our team can get you on the path to less pain and improved functioning to help you feel better. Call our Henderson office to schedule a visit with Dr. Allen for help with taking back control of your life from chronic pain.