Having pain is not uncommon to us. Due to some injury or illness can lead to severe pain in any part of the body. Usually, the pain lets go with the healing of an injury. But in some cases, it stays for 3-6 months, even after the healing of injury or illness, and is often known as chronic pain. Consequently, it starts affecting your emotional and physical health. Continuous chronic pain leads to a condition called chronic pain syndrome. About 25% population in America deals with chronic pain syndrome including symptoms of anxiety, depression, which bother them in daily routine work.
Causes Of Chronic Pain Syndrome
There is no exact cause that has been observed. However, it starts with some severe injury or condition such as:-
- Arthritis like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Joint problems
- Back pain
- Strains on muscles
- Fibromyalgia, a condition in which muscles pain a lot
- Stress over the injured body part
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Lyme disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Acid reflux
The cause of chronic pain syndrome includes both factors physical and mental. According to some researchers, people with this medical condition have issues in their nerves or glands, which helps in tackling stress. And they feel the pain differently.
One more theory about the condition is, that it changes the movement of neurons and makes them hypersensitive to pain signals. For instance, the arthritis foundation revealed that about 20% of people who have gone through knee surgery, still report chronic pain.
It can affect both sexes, but is more common in females. Also, people with depression and other medical conditions are at high risk.
Symptoms Of Chronic Pain Syndrome
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Sleeping disorders
- Feeling exhausted
- Declined sexual drive
- Drug or alcohol abuse
The unbearable pain of CPS enforces the patient to rely upon pain killers, which make them drug-dependant.
So, who is more likely to get the syndrome? However, risk factors are always there for vulnerable individuals. And so for chronic pain syndrome.
Who Is More Vulnerable To CPs?
Those who have arthritis and other painful conditions.
The depressed individuals. There is no perfect reason, but having depression changes the receiving pattern of the brain and break in the messages from the nervous system.
Smokers. There is no such evidence yet, but researches are continued that why smoking worst the pain in arthritis and other chronic pain disorders such as fibromyalgia.
Overweight. Obesity plays a big role in interfering with the body’s hormones and digestion. Though, experts haven’t reached the exact cause, as if it happens due to the extra stress of weight on the body or due to the complexities it plays with the hormones and metabolism.
Females. Women are more vulnerable to chronic pain syndrome.
People over 65. Well, as we age, we get more prone to numerous medical conditions.
Chronic Pain Syndrome V/s Fibromyalgia
As the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndrome often synchronize, but they are different disorders. Chronic pain is however associated with identifiable symptoms like arthritis, or severe bone injury that doesn’t heal yet.
If we talk about fibromyalgia, it is a nervous disorder diagnosed with muscle, joint pain, and fatigue. Happens without a known cause. The X-ray also, would not give any indication of nerve or tissue damage. Hence, fibromyalgia interferes with the function of nerves and sends pain messages. The symptoms of chronic pain can still felt even after the treatment. This severe condition of fibromyalgia later results in the chronic pain syndrome.
This is brief about CPS and other medical conditions linked to it. But, now the question must be in someone’s mind how to know if you have such a syndrome. You will go for a diagnosis to analyze the problem.
Diagnosis Of Chronic Pain Syndrome
Your physician will ask some common questions related to your medical history.
- When did your pain start?
- How does the pain feel?
- The location of pain
- Is there something that makes the pain less or high?
As severe pain may lead to chronic pain syndrome, your doctor can suggest for an imaging test to check if there is any joint or tissue damage that might be the reason for your suffering.
- He may suggest you MRI test if the pain is coming from a herniated disc.
- X-ray, to check osteoarthritis
- And blood test for rheumatoid arthritis
Doctors may not find any appropriate reason for the condition, quite possible. But you have to find alternative solutions until you don’t get a satisfactory answer. You have to analyze deeply, the triggers and experiences you feel during pain. That will only help you in finding a way towards treatment.
Now, if someone is diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome, there are few treatments for minimizing the symptoms.
Treatment Options For Chronic Pain Syndrome
Pain relievers:- the pain relievers include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, that too have pain-relieving properties. In some severe cases, opioids can be prescribed.
Physiotherapy to improve flexibility and motion
Nerve blockers to inhibit pain signals
Psychological therapies:- when the rest of the other treatments don’t help in suppressing the pain, psychological therapy may help in boosting mood. For instance, cognitive behavior therapy, which is talk therapy to remove negative thoughts, has been effective in the uplifting mood even after the years of treatments. Biofeedback is another one of the best psychological therapy to controlling the body reactions such as rapid breathing.
Also read| Amazing gadgets to relieve stress
Yoga:- Yoga is a complete exercise, provides flexibility and relaxes muscles, and takes you to mindfulness. It helps you in improving your breath and reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression which often come with chronic pain syndrome.
Furthermore, hypnosis and acupuncture have been shown effective in the treatment of CPS.
How To Cope Up With Chronic Pain Syndrome
Managing chronic pain syndrome isn’t easy, undoubtedly. Somehow, your emotional stress can make it even worst. But preparing yourself and involving in interesting activities may help in distracting yourself from the pain. The American psychological association suggests some tips for coping up with chronic pain.
- Find the good things happening in your life.
- Involve yourself in interesting activities with your family.
- If you feel excessive stress and emotional distress, don’t hesitate in taking psychological therapies.
Pain is not uncommon. Due to some severe injury or illness, chronic pain can occur. Usually, it lasts for a few weeks or months. But in some cases, it doesn’t heal for more than 6 months. This condition is known as chronic pain syndrome. Consequently, anxiety and depression often coexist with this syndrome. Symptoms include joint pain, muscle pain, and sleeping disorders. Causes include arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, broken bones, etc. The treatments include imaging of body parts, psychological or behavioral therapies. Some alternative methods include yoga, hypnosis, and acupuncture. Try to involve yourself in activities with your friends or family. Strictly follow the recommended routine by the doctor. If you feel emotionally exhausted or depressed, don’t hesitate in taking the help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a chronic pain syndrome?
A chronic pain prolonged time along with symptoms beyond pain alone like depression, anxiety, and inability to focus on daily work may have a severe illness chronic pain syndrome. Chronic pain syndrome can be challenging to treat but not impossible. Some counseling, relaxing techniques, and medicines may help in overcoming severe symptoms. CPS may develop due to any traumatic injury, or any other medical conditions like arthritis, or nerve damage. People with CPS have to take more and more medicines to kill the pain, and it makes them dependent on medicines.
Is Chronic Pain Syndrome a disability?
Well, you have to qualify for social security disability benefits, and you have to show the SSI administration of having a severe physical or medically determinable mental impairment. Thus, your impairment must be medically established by lab tests and objective symptoms. Your impairment cannot be considered with symptoms alone. Chronic pain does not come under social security’s blue book, the book with a list of all impairments that will provide you disability benefits. The diagnosis for CPS is however similar to inflammatory arthritis.
What kind of disability is chronic pain?
The Social Security Administration has strict rules which limit the disability benefits to those who have severe conditions and are unable to work. SSA also compiled a whole book consisting of a listed impairment that helps in easily diagnosing the problem, called the blue book. These listed specific impairments will decide whether the person is eligible for disability benefits by matching the symptoms with each possible illness that could be related to chronic pain. For instance, chronic pain can be caused due to various reasons including back injuries, inflammatory bowel syndrome, neurological disorders, inflammatory arthritis, lupus, etc.
If your chronic pain matches with any of the impairments listed in the book, you will get the disability benefits.
What qualifies as chronic pain?
A persistent pain for more than 12 weeks, that stays consistent despite having medicines and rest often results in depression, anxiety, and inability to function normally. People often get rid of pain after an operation or recovery of an injury. But sometimes, the pain occurs unexpectedly without a severe injury or operation and stays for a long time interfering with normal functions. However, some conditions may cause chronic pain as a consequence like diabetes, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and back pain.
How do you prove chronic pain?
It may take a long time to diagnose that you have chronic pain. While diagnosing the symptoms may mimic the other illnesses that make it difficult to identify. It can’t be proved in a single appointment and you may have to visit a doctor several times for different examinations. Primarily you will have a physical examination followed by pressing some tender points from where the pain is triggering exactly. And in further appointments, you may come across neurological and blood tests.
Here are some short points to tell you the whole process:-
- Describing your pain
- Psychological assessment
- Physical and neurological exams
- Blood work
- Imaging and nerve tests
What happens if chronic pain is left untreated?
If chronic pain is left untreated, a person may feel a lot of difficulty in living with chronic pain. Untreated chronic pain may decrease mobility with impaired immunity, lack of concentration, lack of appetite or anorexia, and sleeping disorders such as insomnia. The coexisting medical condition will also remain untreated. Immediate action is mandatory when the symptoms aren’t bearable and disturbs your normal routine.
What is the difference between fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndrome?
However both the disorders may feel quite similar, causes and symptoms are different. Chronic pain syndrome often occurs as a result of a broken bone, injury, or arthritis. While fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic pain in muscles and joints with no known cause. A changed pattern of nerves carrying to the muscles may be the reason for fibromyalgia. Apart from this, severe injury, arthritis, autoimmune disease are the common reasons for both illnesses.
What is the best drug for chronic pain?
Acetaminophen or paracetamol is the best drug for chronic pain. It is prescribed in most illnesses such as moderate pain, from an injury, headache, or painful muscles. Acetaminophen is also prescribed for some other conditions to combat the pain such as arthritis and back pain. Besides it, Advil and other NSAIDs are also given.
What’s the strongest over the counter pain killer?
If you’re looking for an extra effective pain killer, extra-strength Tylenol will be worth taking. Tylenol isn’t a unique drug, by the way, its main constituent is acetaminophen 500 mg. The coated tablets of Tylenol work effectively in relieving pain. You can look for other drugs similar to Tylenol that have high strength of acetaminophen.
What are the long term effects of chronic pain?
Long-term effects of chronic pain harm different aspects of a patient’s health. These include sleeping issues, cognitive processing, mental health, cardiovascular disorders, reduction in sexual drive, and the overall quality of life. Chronic pain tends to get more difficult to treat over time. Also, the conditions related to severe pain show significant complications and economic difficulties for the patient.
Chronic pain is depressing and unbearable in the long term and has to be treated like any other severe health condition. There should be no delay in starting analgesic treatment for the pain with proper diagnosis of other associated conditions for an early recovery.