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If you or a loved one suffers from chronic pain, you’re no stranger to the many ways pain can affect your life. While acute pain serves a purpose—it alerts you to an injury or illness that requires treatment—chronic pain is another story. With chronic pain, it’s as if the body’s internal alarm system is broken and the alarm won’t shut off. Initially, chronic pain can start with a back or neck injury, arthritis, nerve damage, fibromyalgia, or another cause, though sometimes an apparent reason cannot be found. But it doesn’t go away after an illness or injury has healed. Pain becomes a problem in and of itself, not just a symptom.
Chronic pain typically lasts for six months or longer, and it can take such a serious toll on a person’s physical and emotional health and quality of life that it’s now viewed as a disease in its own right. It can also lead to fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and a weakened immune system, and it can interfere with your ability to perform your normal activities.
The ways in which chronic pain is treated depends largely on its cause, severity, and quality (whether it’s aching, burning, or shooting, for example). Generally, a combination of approaches is called for, including:
In some cases, injection therapy (using corticosteroids or numbing agents) can reduce pain and inflammation; in others, surgery may be warranted.
By following your doctor’s treatment regimen, you can obtain at least some relief for your pain and enhance the quality of your life and health. Once your treatment is launched, your doctor will want to see you regularly to find out how well you’re sticking with the recommended lifestyle changes and to monitor how well these changes and the medications you’re taking are easing your pain. Your doctor may then increase or decrease your use of medication and/or other therapies as necessary.
To learn more about how the Visiting Nurse Service of New York can help you manage chronic pain, click here.