Over 50 million Americans live with chronic pain. Are you one of them?
If so, you’re no stranger to the devastating toll that chronic pain symptoms can take on your life.
This condition can make it challenging to spend time with family and friends, go to work, or do just about anything. But, did you know that chronic pain can also take a psychological toll, causing changes to your mood and personality?
Believe it or not, chronic pain disorder can impact far more than how you physically feel.
Read on to learn about the relationship between physical pain and mental health. We’ve also added information on chronic pain causes, treatments for chronic pain, and more.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain and discomfort that lasts weeks, months, or even years after an illness or injury. Its symptoms can include:
- joint and muscle pain
- burning pain
- decreased physical activity
- loss of stamina and flexibility
- changes in mood
Long-lasting pain can eventually develop into a severe medical issue known as chronic pain disorder. This condition impacts both physical and mental health. For example, chronic pain syndrome can cause sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, and other, harder to recognize symptoms.
While, in most cases, this pain can be treated, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, the source of a patient’s pain remains unknown, making it far more difficult to treat.
But, just because doctors aren’t sure what’s causing the pain doesn’t mean it’s any less real to the patient.
Chronic Pain Causes
Every person experiences pain differently, and it’s impossible to know why some people recover quickly while others do not. Some pain conditions like migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease are challenging to diagnose and treat, requiring specialized testing and medical care.
Other types of chronic pain associated with arthritis, spinal damage, and major injuries like car accidents can be far more straightforward.
No matter how your pain started, it’s essential to seek treatment quickly. The longer your body and brain stay in pain, the more likely it is that your condition will worsen, and start to impact other parts of your life – including your psychology.
How Chronic Pain Impacts Your Psychology
Chronic pain syndrome can cause intense emotional pain and eventually lead to mental health disorders.
For most people, as their pain increases, it becomes more difficult to perform everyday functions. This makes socialization and romantic relationships harder. It can also impair cognitive function and impact a person’s ability to work, go to school, or care for themself.
Chronic pain can also impact your psychology if it prevents sleep. Insomnia makes it hard to focus and destabilizes your psychology. It can also make everyday tasks like driving dangerous.
People living with pain can also develop conditions like depression and anxiety. They may feel hopeless or struggle to connect with other people. Pain can also impact mobility, leading to social isolation.
In some cases, chronic pain can linger long after its cause has been corrected. This is caused by a miscommunication between the brain and central nervous system. In some cases, the body becomes hypersensitive to pain messages – and in others, it simply interprets pain when no symptoms are present.
Because the psychological effects of pain can increase with time, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Otherwise, the negative cycle between your chronic pain and mental health might become permanent.
Treatments for Chronic Pain
A wide variety of medical and alternative treatments are available to help ease your chronic pain symptoms. These commonly include:
- Pain-relieving medications
- Physical therapy and chiropractic medicine
- Nerve blocks and injections
- Yoga and other mindful practices
- Psychological and behavioral therapy
Each patient’s case is different, and often, more than one treatment will be applied.
In most cases, your doctor will start with mild medications such as anti-inflammatories and steroids combined with physical therapy or chiropractic care. Injections and nerve blocks can also be used to put a fast stop to acute pain symptoms.
If these treatments aren’t successful, other therapies will be applied. This might include more powerful medications like muscle relaxers.
Strong drugs like antidepressants and opioids are considered the last resort. These medications are addictive and can actually worsen pain if misused.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might also suggest alternative treatments like hypnosis. If you are dealing with depression and anxiety, psychological treatment like CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy, and biofeedback might help.
Your doctor may also suggest that you go to a support group. Spending time around other people living with chronic pain can help patients realize that they aren’t alone. It will also help them develop strong coping skills to get through their pain and discomfort.
Break Free From Your Chronic Pain Symptoms
Now that you know a bit more about chronic pain and how it can impact your psychology, it’s time to take action.
Before visiting a pain specialist, take note of which chronic pain symptoms you’re experiencing and when they started. Your doctor will ask you about potential chronic pain causes, including illness and injury. And, they’ll also want to know how intense your pain is and when it started.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with chronic pain disorder, your feelings are real. During your appointment, you’ll discuss the different treatments for chronic pain with your doctor and develop a plan for managing discomfort.
If you’re ready to take your life back, don’t wait to seek treatment! Contact Wake Spine and Pain or call (919) 335-7950 today! The longer you wait, the more challenging your pain will be to treat. So, don’t miss out on this opportunity to feel better – both physically and mentally.