The term Chronic Pain is generally used to describe pain that lasts more than three to six months, or beyond the point of tissue healing. Chronic pain is usually less directly related to identifiable tissue damage and structural problems. Chronic back pain without a clearly determined cause, failed back surgery syndrome (continued pain after the surgery has completely healed), and fibromyalgia are all examples of chronic pain.
Chronic pain can take many forms, but is often placed in one of these two major categories of its own:
Pain with an identifiable cause, such as an injury. Certain structural spine conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis, can cause ongoing pain until they are successfully treated. These conditions are due to a diagnosable anatomical problem. If the pain caused by these types of conditions has not subsided after a few weeks or months of nonsurgical treatments, spine surgery may usually be considered as a treatment option. In reality, this type of chronic pain might be conceptualized as a long term acute pain even though the term chronic pain is used. Chronic pain with no identifiable cause. When pain persists after the tissue has healed and there is no clear reason for the pain that can be identified, it is often termed “chronic benign pain.”
See Understanding Different Types of Back Pain. It appears that pain can establish a pathway in the nervous system in some cases, becoming the problem in and of itself. In other words, the nervous system may be sending a pain signal even though there is no ongoing tissue damage. The nervous system misfires and creates the pain. In such cases, the pain is the disease rather than a symptom of an injury.
- Exercise:Regular exercise and physical therapy are usually part of any pain management plan.Regular exercise is important for treating chronic pain because it helps:
- Strengthen muscles
- Increase joint mobility
- Improve sleep
- Release endorphins
- Reduce overall pain
Relaxation techniques are often recommended as part of a treatment plan. They help to reduce stress and decrease muscle tension.
Relaxation techniques include:
Yoga also has other benefits for chronic pain. It can help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
- Acupuncture and acupressureAcupuncture and acupressure are types of traditional Chinese medicine. They relieve pain by manipulating key points of the body. This prompts the body to release endorphins which can block messages of pain from being delivered to the brain.
- BiofeedbackBiofeedback is another technique for pain management. It works by measuring information about physical characteristics such as:
The feedback is used to enhance an individual’s awareness of physical changes associated with stress or pain. Awareness can help a person train themselves to manage physical and emotional pain.