Everyone experiences pain at several points in their lives. But most of the time, these aches don’t last long. However, there are body pains that persist and take a toll on your daily life. This type of pain is called chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a recurring condition, with some spells lasting over six months. It could be a direct result of an injury caused by trauma or overuse, or it can happen out of the blue due to an underlying condition, ranging from stress and PTSD to arthritis. Genetics and gender can also be contributing factors.
That said, knowing how chronic pain can affect you is important. Read on to learn more about this musculoskeletal condition and how you can manage it.
What are the Types of Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain has two main types: neuropathic and nociceptive pain.
Neuropathic pain occurs when your nerves get damaged. Peripheral neuropathy or peripheral nerve damage is one condition that can trigger this type of chronic pain.
Nociceptive pain occurs when your nervous system’s pain receptors don’t work properly after an injury activates them. That injury could subside, but your nociceptors would still give pain signals to your nervous system.
If you’re dealing with nociceptive pain, your pain could be any of the following types:
This type of nociceptive pain occurs in your vital internal organs, particularly the ones located in a cavity. You can experience visceral pain if one of your organs has damaged pain receptors. It’s an aching sensation that originates deep inside your body.
If any of your body’s external parts get injured, you could experience somatic pain. It’s either associated with joint injuries or forms of arthritis. Somatic pain can occur in the following areas:
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Most chronic pain stems from the following conditions:
- Lower back pain
- Nerve damage
But sometimes, certain injuries can trigger chronic pain syndrome. These conditions can include:
- Joint injuries
- Strained muscles
- Broken bones
- Severe infections
The pain could occur without any cause, as well.
How Can Chronic Pain Affect You?
Chronic pain comes with a variety of symptoms. Physical symptoms include the following:
- Painful joints
- Sore muscles
- Intense pain
- Tight muscles
- Limited mobility
Chronic pain can also leave you feeling tired and restless and affect your sleep quality and appetite.
Chronic pain symptoms can even go beyond physical effects. Persistent aches could lead to the following mental health conditions and emotions:
- Worries over re-injury
What are the Different Treatments for Chronic Pain?
You can manage chronic pain through various treatments. Here are several options you can consider for your condition.
Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medicine or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for mild pain relief. Examples of these medications include:
These types of medicine help with pain relief for achy muscles. Furthermore, NSAIDs can help make affected areas less swollen.
Topical Pain Relievers
You can opt for topical pain relievers, too. Applying them to your skin will help soothe muscle aches and swollen joints.
Topical pain relievers come in the following forms:
- Spray-on substances
Other Prescription Medications
Sometimes, over-the-counter pain medicine might not work for you. In that case, your doctor can give you any of the following remedies:
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-anxiety medicine
- Prescription NSAIDs
If you don’t want to depend on pain medication, chiropractic care can be a good alternative for you. It’s a natural, drug-free treatment focusing on your body’s structure. A chiropractor corrects misalignment of certain body parts, particularly the spine and joints, through manipulation.
In a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor will apply a controlled thrust to realign an affected area. They can perform this technique on your spine, back, neck, or hip. You could get an adjustment for your whole body or your tailbone, as well.
Physical therapy methods can help with pain relief, as well. Your therapist can use any of the following techniques to soothe body aches:
- Exercises like range-of-motion and strengthening exercises
- Manual therapy, including manipulations and mobilizations
- Heat or cold therapy
Trigger Point Injections
In a trigger point injection, your physician will put a small needle with local anesthesia into the affected area. Occasionally, that anesthetic could contain a steroid. The injection can help soothe your trigger point, and your body aches.
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical stimulation therapy. As the name suggests, this type of therapy brings pain relief through electrical stimulation. Your therapist will put electrodes over your skin, with these devices close to the affected area.
The electrodes send low-voltage current to that area, stimulating its nerves. In turn, the current will give your brain a new set of signals. Those signals will alter the pain signals that your brain transmits.
When you exercise often, it’ll help you achieve more toned, stronger, and more flexible muscles. In turn, exercise will lead to better pain management. It could help your body produce endorphins, too. Endorphins are chemicals that aid in pain relief.
If you’re feeling persistent pain, but you’re looking for simpler exercises, you can give any of the following activities a try:
Acupuncture can help your body produce more endorphins for fewer aches and pains, too. During this treatment, your therapist will insert needles in “acupuncture points.” These needles will stimulate specific nerves, producing a dull ache or making your muscles full. Then, stimulated muscles will tell your brain and spinal cord to release endorphins.
Your therapist can address any of the following conditions with acupuncture:
- Lower back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Today, more and more people are addressing their pain through massage therapy. Most of the time, they’ll get one for persistent back and neck issues. Massage therapy enables better blood circulation within your body, which can help loosen up strained muscles. Additionally, a massage would help decrease pain-inducing substances in the body.
For several chronic pain sufferers, consuming fewer fats or more anti-inflammatory, plant-based food could relieve pain. While there isn’t enough evidence to establish the role of food in pain management, there is strong evidence that certain foods can help reduce inflammation.
Enrich your diet with the following:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Dried beans and peas
- Whole-grain bread and cereal
- Low-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Lean meat
How Can You Cope With Chronic Pain?
Apart from getting treatment, there are other ways to cope with chronic pain. Let’s look at some tips that can help you in living with the condition.
Relax with Deep Breathing or Meditation
With the help of deep breathing and meditation, your body can de-stress and your aches can decrease. Some meditation techniques have repetition at their core, like saying a mantra. Other methods focus on areas such as spirituality and movement. Either way, meditation can get your body to relax.
You can also de-stress with deep breathing. Beyond stress relief, this technique can help with pain relief. Your body produces endorphins to ward aches off as you take a deep breath.
Control Your Stress Levels
Depression, anxiety, and stress, among other mental health conditions, could make your body more sensitive to pain. Less stress can help you feel a little less pain. If you need some calm, you can turn to any of the following methods:
- Relaxing music – Relaxation tapes or CDs have this kind of music to boost your mood.
- Guided imagery – Guided imagery lets you visualize tranquil images, helping you relax.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – This technique involves tightening and loosening your muscles while doing a breathing exercise. It helps ease tense muscles.
Lessen Your Alcohol Intake
Body aches cause sleep problems, and they could worsen with alcohol. You can reach a better quality of life when you cut back or give up on alcohol.
Smoking while you’re suffering from chronic pain could make aches more severe. Moreover, it could cause more serious issues with blood flow. Smoking could put you at a higher risk for heart disease and cancer, as well. With that, we advise resisting the urge to smoke.
Manage Your Chronic Pain with the Right Care
Living with chronic pain is a challenge. Persistent aches and pains will affect how you move, work, and feel. But by getting the care you need, you can keep on doing the things you love.
If you’re seeking relief from chronic pain syndrome, LifeClinic offers chiropractic care, physical therapy, and rehabilitative services. We’ll help you recondition your body so you can feel and move better. To get started on your recovery, visit any of our locations today.