Chronic Pain and Pain Management Treatment
Overview of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a complex and potentially debilitating condition that can affect every part of the human body. Everyone experiences pain of some kind, but chronic pain sufferers face reduced productivity at work, less energy at home, and a depleted sense of health and well-being brought on by prolonged periods of intense discomfort.
There are two basic types of pain:
Acute Pain — Pain that typically comes on suddenly, often as the result of an accident, illness, surgery or trauma, and is limited to a finite period of time and degree of severity.
Chronic Pain — Pain that persists over a longer period of time or extends beyond the expected period of healing.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Pain can be caused by a single cause or a combination of causes. While each type of pain has its own origins, the following are some possible causes:
- Nerve damage
- Improperly healed injuries
- Congenital conditions
- Diseases such as arthritis, cancer and multiple sclerosis
The causes of chronic pain are not always known. In some cases, pain can take on both physical and psychological dimensions, making it difficult to diagnose and treat.
Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain comes in many forms, ranging from mild to incapacitating and episodic to continuous. Every individual’s experience of pain is unique. For some, pain takes the form of aching or soreness whereas others may describe pain as shooting or burning.
Symptoms of chronic pain can be vague and difficult to describe. Some of the most common chronic pain complaints include:
- Back pain
- Cancer pain
- Sinus pain
- Joint pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Prolonged periods of pain can impact mind, body and spirit. Chronic pain sufferers may also struggle with mood changes, such as depression, anxiety, anger, fear, stress and fatigue, which can change the way the body perceives pain and fights illness and can decrease the amount of natural painkiller produced by the body.
Chronic pain is treatable. Whether pain is caused by physical, psycho-emotional, chemical, nutritional, behavioral or environmental factors, effective treatment requires a combination of medical and psychological interventions. Treatment for chronic pain may include:
- Psychotherapy (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)
- Electrical Stimulation
- Relaxation Exercises
- Chiropractic Care
Many of CRC’s treatment facilities offer specialized programs for pain management. Beginning with a thorough musculoskeletal and neurological exam, pain specialists determine the origin and nature of the pain, and develop an individualized treatment plan. Essential components of treatment may include medical consultations and care, physical therapy, sensory integration, dialectical behavior therapy, trigger point therapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, nutrition counseling, manual therapies, and other integrative therapies.
With appropriate treatment, chronic pain patients can learn to manage, control and reduce their pain. As self-awareness, mood, sleep and physical ability improve, the patient’s quality of life returns, restoring hope for an active and productive future.
A Note About Chronic Pain and Opiate Addiction
Certain medications used to treat chronic pain can lead to physical and psychological dependence. This means that withdrawal symptoms may develop when stopping use of the drug and a tolerance may develop over time, causing the person to require higher doses of the drug to experience pain relief.
Painkiller addiction is another concern for individuals taking medication for chronic pain. Drug addiction is of particular concern when an individual is prescribed a drug in the opioid family. Examples of prescription opiates include:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Morphine (MS Contin)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
People with a personal or family history of drug addiction may be at greater risk for developing a painkiller addiction. You may have developed a prescription drug addiction if:
- You feel unable to control your medication use
- You have begun to take painkillers more frequently and in higher doses than prescribed
- You have begun taking painkillers to ease depression, anxiety and other issues besides pain
- You are taking medication prescribed for another person
- You see more than one doctor to get larger amounts of medication than one doctor would be willing to prescribe
CRC Health’s chronic pain treatment programs use the fewest medications possible and when appropriate, prescribe non-addictive medications with the fewest side effects. As trained medical specialists target and treat the causes of pain, they are also well-equipped to address any co-occurring addictive behaviors.