Chronic Pain Q & A
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is pain that endures for longer than three months. In most cases, the pain is no longer serving a useful function.
When pain first begins, it’s a warning to your brain that there’s something happening that needs your attention. If you didn’t feel pain, you wouldn’t know you had a wound that needed cleaning or stitching, for instance. As a result, you could bleed out or die from infection.
Pain helps keep you alive and is a vital sensation. However, when it persists beyond the stage where it’s any use, pain becomes a chronic and often disabling condition.
What conditions cause chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a key feature in many long-term health problems, affecting the back and neck and joints quite often, but those where pain is the main symptom include:
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
Myofascial pain syndrome
Degenerative disc disease
Chronic pain is often a result of an injury or disease process where there’s permanent damage to the affected structures. Arthritis is a good example of this kind of chronic pain.
Sometimes, chronic pain develops because damaged tissues don’t heal properly, or there’s excessive scar tissue. There are also conditions like neuralgia that affect the nerves themselves.
Neuropathic pain also comes from the nerves, when they send out pain signals, even if there’s no tissue damage.
How is chronic pain treated?
As there are so many possible causes of chronic pain, there are a great many different treatments as well. Initially, your chronic pain treatment plan at Oklahoma Pain Physicians begins with conservative approaches, such as:
These approaches are successful for many patients. You can also help yourself by adopting healthier lifestyle habits. Chronic stress, obesity, smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, lack of exercise, and a poor diet can all make chronic pain worse.
If conservative approaches aren’t helping enough, the Oklahoma Pain Physicians team can also offer a range of steroid and anesthetic injections, including:
Medial branch blocks
They can also address pain from nerves with radiofrequency ablation, or use regenerative medicine therapies to promote healing of damaged tissue.
If you have head pain or severe headaches or migraines, occipital and facial stimulation and Botox® injections could help.
What if my chronic pain isn’t getting better?
TThere are more advanced treatments available at Oklahoma Pain Physicians for chronic pain that’s resisting other treatment methods. These include:
Spinal cord stimulation
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty
Lysis of adhesions (Racz® procedure)
Peripheral nerve blocks
If you’re living with chronic pain, call Oklahoma Pain Physicians today or request an appointment online.