Managing chronic pain can take a variety of approaches.
Minor aches and pains are a fact of life, especially as people age. And while having a few days of minor pain can be disruptive and uncomfortable, chronic pain can last weeks, months, or even years, making day-to-day life challenging due to limited mobility, strength and endurance.
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, approximately 100 million Americans are affected by and managing chronic pain, making it one of the leading causes of long-term disability.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Pain is a signal in a person’s central nervous system that something is wrong. Pain can be dull or sharp and it can be constant or come and go. There are two types of pain:
Acute pain — usually brought on by a specific event such as surgery or broken bones, it typically goes away when there is no longer an underlying event for the pain.
Chronic pain — lasts at least 12 weeks and can begin after an event such as surgery, but rather than going away after healing, it remains constant. People can also suffer from chronic pain even when there is not an injury or underlying event that triggers the pain.
Common types of chronic pain include:
Psychogenic pain (pain that is not caused by a disease, injury or nerve pain)
How Is Chronic Pain Managed or Treated?
The treatment goal for chronic pain is to reduce the pain and help the individual engage in life without discomfort. Doctors who specialize in chronic pain treatment typically use a combination of three approaches to help treat chronic pain:
Medications – this can include over the counter and prescription medications.
Medical intervention – surgery and other less invasive methods such as acupuncture have been shown to provide individuals with pain relief.
Lifestyle – making changes to diet, including exercise in a person’s daily routine, meditation and therapy, and yoga are just a few of the ways that chronic pain can be managed.
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