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Pain Management - Chronic Illness or Injury

Updated on May 21, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

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

Debilitating Chronic Pain

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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

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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

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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.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

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

Too Many Pills

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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.

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.

References

  • https://www.everydayhealth.com/autoimmune-disorders/autoimmune-disorders-of-the-joints-muscles-and-nerves.aspx
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/in-depth/fibromyalgia-pain/art-20047867
  • https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-coping-techniques-pain-management
  • https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/men-women-pain.htm
  • https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Complex-Regional-Pain-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet
  • https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/11-tips-for-living-with-chronic-pain#1
  • https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago

    maxmans, I agree. It seems that too often symptoms are treated but not the underlying cause. Thanks for your comments.

  • maxmans58 profile image

    maxmans58 

    6 years ago from Orlando, Florida

    Great hub! I personally believe that there are a lot of people out there with acute and chronic pain who suffer from treatable causes. Pain drugs which are narcotic in nature can be avoided.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 

    7 years ago from Georgia

    Great hub. I learned a lot from this useful information.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Lisabeman, I appreciate your comments and since I have my own problems with pain is what inspired me to write this hub. I hope your health will improve soon, as pain free is good!

  • lisabeaman profile image

    lisabeaman 

    7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Pamela - I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to read this. Great hub! If there's one thing I understand, it's chronic pain. At one time, I had rheumatoid arthritis, now they say it's lupus. I've also suffered from what I thought was TMJ for years, but now they think it might be trigeminal neuralgia. What I've learned, however, is that I do have a high tolerance for pain and that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Thanks for writing this - I'll read your other health hubs too.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Hello, That is a terrible story. I think men doctors quite often lack compassion for women and he misdiagnosed you! Good luck and thanks for the comments.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    7 years ago from London, UK

    With our doctors the problem is that the moment you have gray hairs they not interested any more. I had to fight for over a year to see a specialist. Now my cyst is so big but at least now it gets dealt with. All the time he said it is fat. All the time I told him fat doesn't give you now and then a pain. hahaha It was like a pantomime. I can't see him - he is behind you - hahaha.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Dallas, Good point! Thanks for your comments.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 

    7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Pain, each of us subjectively tell the doctor what is wrong to have them tell us what is wrong... The art of communication is "painful" of and by itself... Great hub!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    kaltopsyd, Thank your for your comments. They are always appreciated. You learn to live with chronic pain to some degree as I have had some experience in this area. So much depends on having the right attitude and not letting yourself sit around in self pity. Thanks again.

  • kaltopsyd profile image

    kaltopsyd 

    7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

    Great Hub! Pain is a horrible thing ESPECIALLY when there's an emotional side to it and it's chronic. I can barely tolerate acute mild pain. When I heard about fibromyalgia it Lmost made me cry just thinking about it. I can't imagine.

    Again, great Hub.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    audry, I don't blame you for putting off or not having surgery. My brother has had 3 back surgeries and he is in worse shape. I think swimming is a wonderful alternative and that is what my doctor's have told me to do but it isn't very convenient. Thanks so much for your comments.

    Lita, Nerve pain is very difficult to deal with and ginger tea is delicious but I didn't know it helped with the pain. My mother uses it for colitis and it is beneficial. Thanks for your comments.

  • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

    Lita C. Malicdem 

    7 years ago from Philippines

    My chronic pain is caused by my diabetic peripheral neuropathy. I know the effect of pain relievers if abused so, I take hot ginger tea and have soft massage in my lower limbs when the flare is intolerable. Good hub!

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    7 years ago from Washington

    I have a herniated disk in my back - oh I wonder how THAT happened with all my antics. I have tried everything and have been recommended surgery which I refuse to do. The best thing I've found - walking consistently and swim aerobics! Actually I think any kind of swimming would help but it is the only way that I can exercise without making things worse.

    Of course, all your ideas are definitely the recommended treatments as well. Massage therapy of any kind to me is the best ever - whether it is some of the gyrating ones or hands on.

    Great job for an issue that strikes a lot of folks.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Support Med, Yes, stress is a factor and with many causes of pain some type of physical therapy or exercise is beneficial. Thanks for your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 

    7 years ago from Michigan

    Excellent! I have learned that receiving pain relief medications will actually help one to heal, as the stress of the pain upon the body can hinder the healing process. We just have to be mature about taking pain meds as a lot of them can be addicting. And it helps to implement some form of physical therapy as well. Voted/rated.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Mutiny, I am sorry to hear about your mother. It is always hard to see those we love suffer. Thanks for your comment.

    FCEtier, Drug addiction is on the rise, so I guess they are always being monitored if they prescribe a lot of narcotics. The sad part is most people with chronic illnesses are very careful not to get addicted. Thanks for your comment.

  • FCEtier profile image

    Chip 

    7 years ago from Cold Mountain

    It's sad to see so many people taking advantage of the increase in pain clinics to divert drugs.

    It's really hard for a legit. MD to have a pain mngt practice without raising eyebrows.

    But then, there are lots of doctors who's morals and ethics are questionable also.

  • Mutiny92 profile image

    Mutiny92 

    7 years ago from Arlington, VA

    My mother suffered from fibromyalgia. It was hard to watch and not being able to help. Wonderful job on your article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Habee, Yes, me too. Thanks for your comment.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    7 years ago from Georgia

    Dealing with chronic pain is extremely taxing - I'm there. Great info, Pam!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    BPOP, I agree with you completely and I think that is an important issue. It really annoyed me to read that black women, younger women and probably the poorer elderly weren't getting the medication they needed to stop their suffering. Thanks so much for your comment.

    50 Caliber, Yes, the physicians are put under pressure to not give out narcotics and that isn't right either unless they are unscrupulous. Most doctors want to help ease your symptoms. Thanks for adding that to the dialog.

  • 50 Caliber profile image

    50 Caliber 

    7 years ago from Arizona

    Pam, good article. I would add that there exists a heavy stigma of the patients being treated like criminals while seeking out relief from the medical arena. The war on drugs has been used against physicians who are willing to give ample treatment. 50

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 

    7 years ago

    Very interesting and important article. I am not at all surprised that doctor's dismiss women's complaints, they've been doing that for a long time. Woman experience pain differently and have different symptoms than men. It's time medical science stepped up to the plate.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    DaimondRN, I thing the effects of stress and anxiety are very much under estimated wit regard to disease. I appreciate you sharing that story. Thanks for your comment.

    Tom, That is amazing that you have learned those methods so well. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

    Pamela,

    I also heard tha women are often not diagnosed with heart disease as quickly as men.

    I also treat my herpatic neuropathy from shingles with prayer and self hypnosis only plus a positive attitude and find it is manageable.

    Great hub!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • DiamondRN profile image

    Bob Diamond RPh 

    7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

    Pamela, I discovered/observed during my years of pharmacy practice that anger (job dissatisfaction, etc.) can be a significant trigger for arthritis involving the hands and feet.

    One example would be when I counseled a young family man/new father who was suffering from a severe form of arthritis in his hands and feet. During our discussion I found out that he was really unhappy about having to spend so much time away from his family. He had been forced by circumstance to become a road-warrior.

    Don asked to be taken off of the road and re-assigned to a non-traveling position that was a much better fit to his personality and his job description. He went into remission soon after that.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago

    Chris, I was surprised to read the result of that study as well. I mean women are the ones having the babies! Thank you so much for your comments.

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 

    7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    It is certainly bizarre that a doctor wouldn't take a womans pain seriously enough.. most women I know can take more pain than I can.

    I do like ginger as an overall pain reducer, and a immuno-stimulant.

    Great post!!!

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