Chronic pain affects just over 20% of the U.S. adult population. That works out to about 50 million people. It has been our experience that many people know very little about chronic pain, especially those who have never experienced it. But even many chronic pain patients know little about their condition other than that it hurts.
Pain clinics like ours specialize in helping chronic pain patients feel better. They are staffed by pain management physicians with access to a variety of treatments not normally available through GPs and family doctors. Anyone suffering from chronic pain and unable to find relief through standard treatments is a good candidate to visit a pain clinic.
While you think on that, here are five things about chronic pain most people do not know:
From a medical standpoint, chronic pain is not arbitrary. We define it as pain that is felt either daily or on most days, for a period of time longer than would otherwise be normal for the condition behind it. As a general rule, chronic pain persists for at least three months.
In the majority of chronic pain cases, pain is a symptom of something else. Cancer patients experience pain related to both the disease itself and its treatments. Diabetics are known to experience neuropathic pain as a direct result of nerve damage in their limbs.
However, there are cases when pain cannot be traced to some other condition. Test after test indicates an otherwise healthy person. In such cases, pain is the only condition. Science doesn't quite understand how this is possible, but it cannot be denied in the face of so many patients who exhibit this sort of pain.
Playing off the previous point, pain can be specific or nonspecific. Specific pain can be traced back to a verifiable condition. Arthritis pain is specific; we know what is causing it. On the other hand, nonspecific pain is pain for which we have found no root cause. This does not necessarily mean there is no root cause. It just means that testing hasn't revealed it.
People who have no experience with chronic pain often think of it in isolation. Their own experience with temporary pain doesn't allow them to make the connection between pain and other symptoms. But truth be told, chronic pain is almost always accompanied by other things, including:
The thing about chronic pain is that it is physically and mentally draining. A patient doesn't just hurt; the constant battle of trying to live a normal life wears them down when pain is always present.
From a clinical perspective, chronic pain is often challenging to diagnose. We know chronic pain is an actual condition. What we are not quite sure about is why it persists in so many cases. Not having a full understanding of chronic pain makes things difficult for medical providers who sincerely want to help.
There is a lot more about chronic pain we have not discussed in this post. Perhaps a second post will follow. At any rate, chronic pain is as much a mystery as it is a reality. If you are living with it and haven't found adequate relief yet, consider visiting one of our clinics. KindlyMD specializes in helping chronic pain patients feel better.