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Pain Management - Chronic Illness or Injury

Updated on July 26, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Debilitating Chronic Pain


Treat Medical Problems Quickly for the Best Outcome

Millions of people suffer from chronic pain and require good pain management to resume any type of normal lifestyle. Back pain is certainly a major complaint, and there are numerous other causes of pain, including arthritis. Many people have numerous back surgeries, or other types of surgery.

Fibromyalgia, cancer, virtually all the autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, ulcers, pancreatitis back or neck injuries and migraine headaches, to name just a few. Often a patient sees their doctor to get a narcotic and maybe a muscle relaxant, which eases the pain but doesn’t treat the cause. That is not so easy now with opioid crisis.

One important aspect inpain management is receiving treatment as quickly as possible after the problem begins, whether it is an injury, cancer, back pain or a chronic disease.

A patient needs to be a self advocate and sometimes push the doctor for a proper diagnosis. Some doctors are good diagnosticians and others are not as skilled. Additionally, some diseases are difficult to diagnose.

Migraine Headache


Hard to Get a Diagnosis

I went to several doctors before being diagnosed with lupus, even though I had some of the most common symptoms. There is not a specific test for lupus, which is also true of several other diseases making a diagnosis more difficult.

Another aspect of being a woman with a chronic disease which I experienced with some doctors was they didn’t listen very carefully to my actual symptoms, but asked questions such as, “Are you having problems with your husband? Are you depressed?” They seemed to quite easily assume the disease was “in my head”.

I spent some time in a lupus support group and heard this story repeated over and over again with a diagnosis taking an average of five years for many people.

I think doctors probably do a better job of diagnosing autoimmune diseases now than they did a few years ago. There is more awareness concerning these diseases, and a great deal of research has been completed at this time.

Back Pain


Some Causes of Pain

The feeling of pain is quite different for various diseases and for injuries It might be mild, sharp, severe, dull, intermittent, or it can be constant pain. Back pain might actually be a sign of a spinal fracture, yet not everyone gets clear cut pain with these fractures.

Here are some examples of different causes of pain:

  • Chronic knee or joint pain caused by arthritis is caused because it affects the shock absorbers naturally occurring in your body and bone rubs against bone. This often leads to joint replacement surgery.
  • Back pain is a bit more complex and can be caused from accidents, muscle strains, osteoporosis or sports injuries. Sometimes back pain will radiate down your leg which is caused by swelling that presses against a nerve (sciatica), or it might be stiffness or pain in the lower back.
  • Chronic neck and shoulder pain are usually caused by overexertion or a pinched nerve. Whiplash will cause this problem or just overuse of muscles that lead to injuries. Many types of join and muscle pain can be causes of chronic neck and/or shoulder pain.
  • Diabetes can cause nerve pain (neuropathy) which is very painful.
  • Central Pain Syndrome resulting from a stroke, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries may result in chronic pain and burning syndromes from damage to brain regions.

I could fill this page with reasons people experience pain from various injuries listing a multitude of diseases, but the bigger problem is how to treat the pain, so that the individual can tolerate the pain and have an improved quality of life.

Managing Chronic Pain without Narcotics

Women Experience Pain Differently than Men

There are many other painful conditions, and some are quite difficult to treat. Research has found that women experience more chronic pain than men. For women it is more intense and lasts longer than in men. Womeno are more likely to experience multiple painful conditions at the same time, which can lead to greater mental stress and increased risk of disability.

Chronic pain lasting longer than six months without relief from medical treatment is associated with many conditions, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and migraines, which are all more prevalent in women. Estrogen plays a factor in women.

Genetic and hormonal differences are the reason for the differences between men and women according to the International Study of Pain’s 2007-2008. Women tend to focus on the emotional aspects of pain, where men tend to focus on the physical sensations they experience. Because women respond to pain this way, it is very important that they take a more active role in their treatment, get psychological support and/or learn relaxation techniques. Biofeedback can also be helpful.

Getting the Medication Necessary for Relief

Patients that enter pain management programs seem to overestimate their progress when compared to their case managers assessment. Seeing a pain specialist is often the best way to get proper treatment for your condition. When a patient takes an active role to deal with the pain, their stress levels are lower and they have a more positive outlook on the future.

Pain management programs are composed of many components using are best top techniques. Of course, medications are almost often given. They may be narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory medications.

Obviously we are all aware of the addictive nature of opioids. New laws are changing the length of time a narcotic may be prescribed, and many states are also allowing ill patients to use marijuana for pain relief. Cymbalta is a newer medication that is used as a treatment for osteoarthritis along with depression, plus it is used for diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia and anxiety.

It is important for the elderly and the poor to seek out good medical treatment, as they may not be listened to receive the best treatment. Also, children and younger adults may have this problem.

Young with Chronic Pain

Pain Treatment Without Drugs

Pain management does offer some other ways of treating chronic pain without the use of or in addition to the use of narcotics

Guided imagery has been scientifically proven to reduce pain levels. You simply identify a calm peaceful place and use the imagination to transport the body to this place with practice will alleviate the severity of chronic pain. The pain impulses are reduced when you use guided imagery to build new pathways in the brain.

There are nutritional and herbal remedies that are very effective. Pain causing inflammation and insomnia is often diet related, and the following diet changes should give you relief.

  1. Omega -3 fatty acids, found in fish and flax seed can reduce inflammation.
  2. Ginger can inhibit pain causing molecules.
  3. MSM is a nutrient that enhances the building of bone and cartilage and you will often see it in combination with Glucosamine and Chrondoitin.
  4. Tumeric is used to reduce inflammation.
  5. Olive oil, fish, leafy vegetables, and whole grains are important ingredients as well.

Massage relaxes knotted muscles and increases circulation which releases chronic tension.

Chiropractic therapy physically moves the joints into proper alignment to remove stress.

Depression, anxiety and fear can worsen pain, and they often accompany chronic illness. It is helpful to have someone to talk to about the fears or to get professional help if necessary.

Aromatherapy may be useful, and essential oils can relive arthritis pain. You can also get sinus relief with essential oils. Some people use magnet therapy for pain relief. Certainly acupuncture is used for many pain related problems.

Weight loss, if that is a problem for the patient, will cut down on chronic pain in lower joints.

Too Many Pills


Chronic Pain Summary

There are many types of homeopathic remedies available, but you need to be careful as there are some charlatans, and you don’t always get what you pay for. Check references if you have any doubts as sometimes we make decisions out of desperation.

Learn everything you can about your illness, and make sure you are seeing the right type of doctor. It is preferable to see a rheumatologist for autoimmune diseases rather than a family practitioner as their training is specific to those diseases.

Get enough rest, eat healthy, exercise and try to keep your stress level low if possible for the best chance at regaining good health.



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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