What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined by any type of pain, in any location in or on your body that lasts for a prolonged time, usually 10-12 weeks and longer. Some medical professionals consider a patient to have chronic pain if they have been experiencing it for at least six months.
Chronic pain falls into two major categories: neuropathic and nociceptive. Neuropathic pain is associated with the nervous system and can be the result of a malfunction or an injury to a localized point such as the spinal cord or nerve damage. Nociceptive pain is caused by inflammation or tissue damage. While inflammation is normal for the body to heal itself, prolonged or intense inflammation is not normal and untreated leads to chronic pain issues.
The type of pain is best defined by the person experiencing it because no one person’s body feels pain the same way as another person. There are several possible types of pain, including:
- Chronic pain from injury
- Chronic pain in the musculatory system
- Chronic visceral pain
- Chronic neuropathic pain
- Chronic posttraumatic pain
Chronic pain is different from acute pain, which typically occurs differently after an injury or illness. Chronic pain, as the name suggests, is prolonged pain that can lead to other health issues.
Symptoms vary from person to person, and chronic pain means different things to different people. The pain could be in the form of soreness or dull ache, or more intense such as a shooting or burning. Chronic pain affects more than just that particular area: being in constant pain can cause other physical or mental symptoms or problems. Prolonged fatigue, sleep problems, and mood changes are three of the most common physical symptoms a chronic pain sufferer will experience.
Chronic pain can also be the result of other health problems, such as nerve damage, a prolonged infection, fibromyalgia, or untreated migraines.
Since chronic pain is different for each individual, doctors may prescribe just one treatment or several together. It some cases these treatments listed below might not be right for everyone.
- Medications such as pain relievers (both opioids and non-opioids are possible)
- Nerve blockers
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Ketamine is one of the more useful and effective treatments for chronic pain. Those who use it have shown a significant reduction in the pain intensity.