Chronic pain signs and symptoms can include moderate to severe discomfort that does not go away after an injury or illness; pain that you would describe as shooting, aching, burning or electrical; or general soreness, discomfort, stiffness or tightness in one or more parts of the body. The difficult part of treating chronic pain conditions is that narrowing down a diagnosis can be difficult because many share the same signs and symptoms.
Do you have persistent pain in a part of your body? Discomfort or fatigue? These can all be signs of a chronic pain condition which can progress, making mobility and everyday life a challenge. This pain may stem from an injury, illness or an undetermined cause. Finding the right doctor and treatment may require a little work, but it’s important to know that there are ways to minimize physical pain and the psychological impacts.
Chronic pain conditions, such as those stemming from cancer, fibromyalgia or arthritis, can cause a host of complications including fatigue, lost sleep, anxiety, stress, a weakened immune system, depression, immobility, confusion, mental fogginess and mood changes such as fear, hopelessness, helplessness and anger. Many people withdraw from their normal course of life, which can take its toll on hobbies, interests, relationships, careers and finances.
All of these complications and negative emotions can actually make the pain worse. And patients who suffer from this pain may think it’s best to avoid anything physical, which can further compound the depression and lead to disability and obesity. Doctors actually recommend physical activity, stressing the importance of keeping the body going. Otherwise, muscles can waste away and the body can become inflexible.
Pain management can be complex. Many doctors turn first to prescription pain medication including opiates. These medications are high-powered and when used regularly over a relatively short period of time, can lead to dependence. Opiate dependence is serious so patients should be careful and take medication only as prescribed. If a patient becomes tolerant to a certain painkiller, he or she should speak to a doctor and avoid increasing the dose. A pain specialist can decide whether to switch medications or pursue other options.
Though medication and physical therapy are standard treatments offered in Westernized medicine, there are other therapies that patients may want to consider trying. These include psychotherapy to deal with depression and mood changes, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, guided imagery and meditation, and alternative practices such as acupuncture to alleviate pain. Other options include bio/ biofeedback, yoga and reiki.