#MyPainPlan: How to Deal with Acute and Chronic Pain
Pain can be divided into two broad types--Acute or chronic. Acute pain lasts for days to weeks. If pain lasts for more than 6 months it may be called chronic pain. Chronic Pain ia a complex phenomenon and more difficult to understand than to treat. Chronic pain can greatly affect the quality of life of a patient.
Pain Awareness Month, which is an initiative by the American Chronic Pain Association, is expanding its reach around the globe this September. This year’s theme for pain awareness month is #MyPainPlan. The key to raising awareness is to get involved. International Society for study of Pain (IASP) suggests some ways through which anybody can participate in Pain Awareness Month.
1. Spread the word
Easily contribute to the campaign by distributing IASP materials and resources anywhere you can, whether at a library or doctor’s office.
#MyPainPlan focuses on the vital importance of an individualized, multidisciplinary, multimodal approach to pain care. Use the hashtag to share your plan to help advance multidisciplinary pain management, or share your pain care plan.
3. Get social
Social media is a powerful tool for raising awareness. We must use it for raising awareness of this important issue.
What is chronic pain?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines chronic pain as pain that persists over a long period of time. Unlike short-term or acute pain, chronic pain is not a normal sensation; it is a continuous sensation of hurt that lasts for weeks, months or even years. More often than not, pain is caused by an initial injury or condition such as a sprained wrist, arthritis, or an ear infection or sometimes no obvious injury or inciting factor.
However, people may experience pain without having suffered a previous injury or health problem. Some of the most common complaints of chronic pain stem from headaches, lower back problems, cancer, arthritis and damage to nerves. The AAPM estimates that over 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain worldwide, with the top three leading causes resulting from low back pain, severe headache or migraine, and neck pain. This is leading us towards one of the biggest global epidemic in healthcare.
How does chronic pain affect our body and mind ?
Chronic pain can be one of the different forms that can negatively affect your quality of life. For example, persistent pain may limit your mobility and perform everyday works schedule. As a result of decreased activity , your muscles may get weakened. The pain pathway has different circuits in the spinal cord and brain,Thus affecting us emotionally when we have chronic pain.There is also a strong association of depression in chronic pain patients.These physical and psychological challenges may intensify feelings and make it more difficult to deal with a painful situation.
How to deal with chronic pain?
If you’re experiencing long-term pain, the chronic disease self-management program suggests talking with your healthcare provider about your symptoms to better address the cause of your pain. Providers may be able to prescribe treatment or medication to address the problem or alleviate your symptoms.
However, since the cause of chronic pain is not always certain, one must consult a doctor for a better cure. A Pain physician with his/her multimodal approach can relieve your pain. Many a times a pain intervention (for example a specific type of block for which the pain physicians are trained) can do miracle and the burden of analgesics can drastically go down. Few other tools for pain management include:
- Regular physical activity: stretching and exercise can release endorphins for better pain relief and general wellbeing. Physical therapist can guide you which exercises are better for your pain.
- Relaxation for mind and body: To use of relaxation, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness help ease your pain.
- Ice and heat therapy: Application of ice on moist heat areas of pain.
(Author Dr Samarjit Dey is Associate Professor, Department of Anaesthesiology, Pain and Critical Care, AIIMS Raipur)