Suffering from chronic pain can influence every aspect of your life. It can be hard to know what options are available and what would best suit you, your loved ones, and your work. The following will explore some of the things that you can do if you are experiencing chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is a situation whereby pain continues after an injury or illness has healed. Pain is our body’s normal reaction to harm—a message that we need to stop and pay attention to because something isn’t right. If pain continues after its cause is gone (for three to six months or more), it is called chronic pain. Nearly 25% of people who experience chronic pain will go on to have chronic pain syndrome (CPS). This syndrome includes pain but also additional symptoms like depression or anxiety and often interferes with daily life.
What Causes Chronic Pain Syndrome?
Doctors and researchers are still unsure what causes CPS, but they have identified both mental and physical components to it. One theory involves viewing the condition as a problem with the nerve systems and glands that the body uses to deal with stress—resulting in a person feeling pain differently. Another theory is that CPS is a learned response. Typically, the syndrome starts with some type of injury or a painful condition like one of the following:
- Arthritis or other joint problems
- Back pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Muscle strains or sprains
- Acid reflux or ulcers
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Nerve damage
- Lyme disease
- Broken bones
Chronic pain that affects only the limbs (arms and legs) is referred to as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS. This term can also refer to chronic pain that involves uncertainty about the exact nerve that was damaged.
What Should I Do About My Chronic Pain? Get A Diagnosis
First and foremost, get a diagnosis if your pain is interfering with your daily life. A doctor will ask about when the pain started, if any illnesses or injuries caused it, and ask for details about the pain itself. Testing will probably be done to see if you have any damage that you can’t see, which is causing the pain.
Depending on your pain type, you might be given a treatment plan with your doctor, a specialist, or a pain clinic or center. Medical professionals might offer different types of therapy such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling as well as:
- Relaxation techniques
- Nerve blocks
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Pain medications (mentioned above)
It is impossible to know which of these options will be right for you without first speaking to your doctor.
Consider Your Financial Options
In some cases, chronic pain prevents you from completing your work or costs you a hefty amount in medical treatments. In many cases, chronic pain began because of your employment. If that is the case, you have compensation options available to you. If you believe that you might qualify for a workers compensation payout or settlement, reach out to an attorney after you’ve got your diagnosis.
When seeking a lawyer, you want to look for two things. First, you want to find someone specializing in the type of law you’re dealing with. This means you want an attorney who has years of focused experience with workers’ compensation. Ideally, you want someone specializing in workers’ compensation for chronic pain—your specific diagnosis, if possible.
Secondly, you want to find an attorney that practices in the state or province where the injury occurred. This means, you might search for: an attorney specializing in CRPS Australia, if you’re suffering from Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome and you live in Australia. If you’re worried about the financial cost of hiring a lawyer, you can always look for law firms that only charge if they win a settlement on your behalf.
Is Treatment Possible?
Chronic pain is difficult to treat, but it is possible. Counseling, coupled with physical therapy and relaxation techniques, can relieve pain and the other symptoms you experience. It is also possible to take medications or to be prescribed medications for chronic pain, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- COX-2 inhibitors
- Anti-seizure medications
- In some countries, depending on legality, cannabis
Each of these options has risks and rewards associated with them. Take the time to read about the benefits and drawbacks of each medication before making any choices. Doing your research should always be the first step in making any health-related decision.
The above information should help you navigate your options if you’re suffering from chronic pain. Always speak up to your doctor if you are unhappy with your treatment or medications for any reason.