Chronic Pain

Pain has been a prevalent component of the human life ever since time immemorial. The universality of pain has been identified in numerous researches pointing to the fact that it has been in existence for the longest time. Indeed, no human being can claim to not have undergone through the unpleasant sense of discomfort that is pain.  That notwithstanding, there are different strains of pain defined mainly through the period they last. Acute pain has the potential of getting a person’s attention thus prompting them to take action to dissuade the worsening of the pain-causing condition. On the other hand, chronic pain is a strain of pain that persists for longer periods normally more than six months. Chronic pain may be related to other different medical conditions and ailments including arthritis and diabetes among others.

It is estimated that over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain both mild and excruciating (Ashburn & Staats, 2009). As a result of this development, the people face regular interruptions in their work, relationships as well as recreations.  Normally, due to the complex nature of chronic pain, the main goal is the identification of the cause of pain in the patients. In cases where the chronic pain is resulting from diseases, the eventual treatment of the disease is a major goal that should be pursued in a bid to rid the patient of the pain. Ideally, pain serves the purpose of notifying the patient of an imminent problem in a disease and is therefore not entirely useless. However, pain resulting from incurable illnesses is harmful since it never heals. In such cases, the pain has the potential of keeping the people away from normal activity through decreased strength.

Although chronic pain is compound in its occurrences, common causes range from injuries, arthritis, backaches among other chronic ailments. In addition, it could be a feature in many types of cancer and its incidence could thus point to the development of cancer. The incidence of chronic pain is denoted through different symptoms some of which may even be directly caused by the pain. Some of these symptoms include lack of sleep, fatigue and anxiety as well as irritability and depression. In addition, the victims of such chronic pain may experience loss in desire to engage in activities and a general loss of moods (Glajchen, 2001). Some patients have also complained of muscle spasms that may occasionally result in stiffness and soreness.

Researchers have found that chronic pain originates with an initial trauma or infection as well as injuries in the patients. On the other hand though, other people still experience chronic pain even without any record of past injury or body damage. As thus, injuries and damages are just part of the wider basket of causes of chronic pain in individuals. In addition to the direct effects of the pain, chronic pain can further increase the toll on the patients through the emotional toll it brings along. Depression and stress are all effects of chronic pain and their complex interaction can lead to a decrease the production of normal body painkillers. Further, the incidence of these negative feelings has the potential of replicating the production of substances that amplify pain sensations. The eventual result is that the person develops a vicious cycle of pain that does not end even with the introduction of painkillers.

In the recent past, research has found a link between the incidence of chronic pain and the suppression of the immune system. In such instances, there is reason to believe that the most basic defense system in the body is compromised in the event of chronic pain. There is a phenomenon through which untreated pain gets worse because of the negative effects on the nervous system. Nerve fibers that transmit the impulses of pain to the brain get used to delivering the pain signals even better (Jamison et al, 2000). The concept of the strengthening of the nerve fibers is similar to the one that take place in the muscles when they are exposed to training in sports. In similar fashion, the nerves become more effective in sending pain signals to the brain. Eventually, the intensity and magnitude of the signals surpass the level needed to attain the attention of the affected people. In addition, the brain becomes more sensitive to the pain thus increasing the feelings of pain in the affected individuals. It is at this juncture that the pain is then termed chronic pain and ceases to be helpful in signifying illnesses.

There are numerous options for the treatment of chronic pain all over the world. However, approaches to treatment differ across different regions with discrepancies between Eastern and Western regions. In the general field of medicine, both tropical and oral therapies are used in the treatment of chronic pain. In general, oral medications are ingested through the mouth and may include opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs. On the other hand, therapies are applied on the skin either as ointments, creams or patches (Merskey, 1986). Whatever the mode of application, the treatment options work by releasing the active ingredients to the areas affected. Besides medications, there are a variety of other things through which chronic pain can be treated. However, the methods usually help ion relieving the pain and thus reducing the medications required in the control of pain. For instance, regular exercises have been proved to be a sure method of therapy in reducing chronic pain.

The most used method of alleviating chronic pain is through the use of different methods of medications. One prominent way is the use of anti inflammatory drugs which come in different types. Some of these drugs such as ibuprofen which is a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug is available over the counter. These types of medication can be effective in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes and those affecting the muscles and bone areas of the bodies. However, the consumption of these drugs in large quantities over an extended period of time is detrimental to the overall health of the affected patients. For instance, they are known to have negative effects on the kidneys and may occasion the clotting of blood thus affecting the gastrointestinal system. Other negative effects of the drugs include increased exposure to cardiovascular risks as well as failure in the functioning of the liver.

Anticonvulsants are also effective in the treatment of chronic pain especially in many types of nerve type pain. Some of the practical uses of the drugs are in the treatment of burning and shooting pain. However, the use of depressants in the treatment of chronic pain is only used on a daily basis and cannot be used on a need to need basis. As thus, the continued use of the drugs may present many side effects to the users and may even result in the advance of drowsiness and weight gain (Glajchen, 2001). However, these side effects are known to decrease with time therefore rendering the use of these drugs as better and relatively safe. Moreover, the drugs are not recommended in the treatment of people who have a history of glaucoma and kidney stones.

In addition to anticonvulsants, antidepressants are also effective in the control of pain especially when the doses are lower than those needed in the treatment of depression. Just like anticonvulsants, these medications are also not to be taken on a need by need basis but must be taken every day whether one feels like taking them or not. The result is that these drugs exposé the patients to many side effects because of the extended use. In some instances, physicians may attempt to reduce the side effects through the uptake of the drugs at night. Most of the side effects are also not very serious and can be treated through simple actions such as the intake of fluids in the case of dry mouth (Ashburn & Staats, 2009). In addition, there also muscle relaxants that are very effective in the treatment of acute and chronic settings of muscle spasm. In these drugs, the common side effect in the patients is the incidence of drowsiness.

The treatment of chronic pain varies from Western and Easter regions based on the cultural influence of the different regions. The approaches to treatment of chronic pain in the Eastern medicine are somewhat strange as it focuses on such approaches such acupuncture. In contrast Western medicine focuses on modern approaches in which the body and the mind are viewed as two split components (Free, 2002). This is opposite the Eastern medicine where both the body and the mind are viewed as one. Regardless of the approaches used, both cultures are effective in the treatment or relief of chronic pain.



Free, M. M. (2002, April). Cross-cultural conceptions of pain and pain control. In Baylor University Medical Center. Proceedings (Vol. 15, No. 2, p. 143). Baylor University Medical Center.

Ashburn, M. A., & Staats, P. S. (2009). Management of chronic pain. The Lancet, 353(9167), 1865-1869.

Glajchen, M. (2001). Chronic pain: treatment barriers and strategies for clinical practice. The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, 14(3), 211-218.

Jamison, R. N., Kauffman, J., & Katz, N. P. (2000). Characteristics of methadone maintenance patients with chronic pain. Journal of pain and symptom management, 19(1), 53-62.

Merskey, H. E. (1986). Classification of chronic pain: Descriptions of chronic pain syndromes and definitions of pain terms. Pain.


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