According to the National Institute of Health, over 25 million adults in the United States (over 11%) experience pain every day for a duration of at least 3 months. What’s more, almost 40 million adults in the United States (over 17%) experience severe pain. Experiencing painful conditions is something that many of us live with each and every day. Nonetheless, it not only takes a physical toll of our health, but a mental and emotional toll as well. It’s crucial to our well-being and to our quality of life that we have the resources and support needed to manage our pain. Let’s explore several reasons why you shouldn’t ignore chronic pain.
Chronic pain 101
Chronic pain is pain that sticks around past the average healing time from a particular injury or illness. Physicians define chronic pain as pain that last or recurs for a period of 3 to 6 months or more. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 20% of people live with chronic pain. It can be caused by numerous factors. A few types of common chronic pain are:
How to tell if you’re suffering from chronic pain
On paper, pain is a good thing. It’s the reason you quickly move your hand away from a hot object or something sharp. This type of pain prevents additional injury. But when it sticks around and challenges your day-to-day life, that’s when you have a problem.
There are many things that may cause chronic pain such as an injury that doesn’t heal properly, joint and muscle deterioration or something that causes that pain-signaling system to break down. At the end of the day, you’re left with varying levels of discomfort that disrupt your daily life.
When you should see a doctor
The simple fact is that if you are experiencing chronic pain then you need to speak with a doctor about it. Many people try to manage chronic pain themselves, but without the right medicine and regimen, you may actually be doing more harm than good. It’s also possible that your doctor’s initial diagnosis may have been wrong so you might not be getting the type of help and treatment you need.
This occurs frequently with back pain where it may be difficult for your doctor to identify exactly where your pain is originating from and why. For example, it could be a spinal cord injury, nerve damage or disc disruption. Whatever it is that’s causing your pain, your doctor may refer you to specialists and/or run several types of tests from blood work to x-rays to get a more complete picture of your health. This can help her rule out other concerns as well.
Why you shouldn’t ignore chronic pain
More than anything, you shouldn’t ignore chronic pain because it may be a sign of an underlying and often serious health problem. For example, the CDC found that more than 200,000 heart attacks and strokes could be prevented each year through better medical attention. How does this relate to chronic pain? Consider that such is the case with many of the causes of chronic pain. From diabetes to migraines and even unexpected complications from surgeries, it’s vital to your well-being to recognize and speak up when something hurts. It’s about taking charge, learning to manage and alleviate the pain and gaining a comprehensive understanding of your short term and long term health.
Your healthcare team is trained to recognize the early warning signs of serious illness. The pain you have been living through may indeed be a sign of one. By being open with your healthcare team, eating a nutrient dense diet, making meaningful lifestyle changes and taking the right medicines, preventable deaths could be significantly lowered by as much as 40% each year. This goes hand in hand with managing chronic pain. By reducing threat to your body, you can help to prevent and/or alleviate chronic pain. Improved movement in daily activities and in fitness activities such as yoga, dance, running, martial arts and weight training are just a few ways to reduce your threat.
Check out a relaxing yoga session that specifically targets back pain here:
Check out a few simple exercises to help you alleviate chronic back pain here:
Choosing steps to manage chronic pain
After you talk to your healthcare team, they will prescribe you a specific course of treatment. Arthritis and joint pain are a fact of life the older we get. But even that type of pain can be managed through anti-inflammatory medication and a proper exercise regimen that helps strengthen nearby muscle tissue.
Likewise, there are many different pain treatment options such as strength-building routines to prevent muscle spasms and medicines that lower your blood pressure to treat heart conditions. More than anything else, if your doctor cannot treat your pain, asked to be referred to a specialist such as a rheumatologist for arthritis and joint-related illnesses or a neurologists for migraines.
Looking for some quick tips to help soothe your pain? Click here!
Invisible illness is treatable
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t have to live with chronic pain. There are many different types of pain out there, but most are treatable and manageable. If you have been suffering from pain for 3 months or longer, don’t live with it any longer without the support and treatment plan that work for you. Managing your pain may not require invasive procedures; it may simply take an honest conversation and some lifestyle changes. Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider and see what steps you can take to getting back on the road to good health.
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