Woman holding head - Photo by Валерия on Unsplash
Woman holding head - Photo by Валерия on Unsplash

Chronic Pain

Guy sitting on bed in pain and holding head

Chronic pain is typically described as pain that lasts longer than six months and is complex and often misunderstood. Chronic pain signals the hypothalamus and the limbic system, so stress hormones are released in addition to a profound emotional response.   Chronic pain is commonly related to an underlying disease process, but the cause can also be unknown. Because of this, it can be difficult to treat chronic pain.

Chronic pain arises when tissue has been damaged from injury, disease, or medication and your pain pathways become confused and continue to signal that pain is occurring even if the underlying cause has been treated. The brain continues to perceive pain because of neuroplasticity, and in situations such as this, the mind-body connection needs to be disrupted and retrained to stop the pain.  

Causes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain
  • Back pain
  • Repeat/unrelenting physical stressor
Characteristics
  • Known pain
  • Often result of disease
  • Constant
  • Ongoing
Associated Signs and Symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated blood pressure

Chronic Pain and Suffering

Because chronic pain is often misunderstood and unrelenting, many individuals find themselves in a prolonged state of suffering. In addition to physical distress, suffering can include despair, anger, fear, hopelessness and further isolation. 

It is not uncommon for people with chronic pain to also have anxiety and depression.  If you are noticing feelings of increased anxiety and depression contact a member of your care team to discuss ways to help. It can be very hard to pull yourself out of these feelings, but it is possible with the help of your care team. 

 

Integrative Therapies for Chronic Pain

Integrative therapies work really well as part of the care plan for chronic pain because they can retrain the brain pathways involved in pain perception. This is because of neuroplasticity, which can work in your favor or against it. 

Mind-body practices that have proven beneficial for chronic pain include (this could be a feature grid)

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