How to recognize and manage chronic pain

Aditya Pattanath 4 minute read

In Chronic Illnesses

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Chronic pain is a mystery, often being hard to decode.  We experience a range of unpleasant pains, including neck and back stiffness, spasms, and even knee aches, when doing day-to-day tasks. But does that count as chronic pain?

Pain in essence, is your body’s way of informing you that something isn’t working properly. Whenever you feel pain, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong. It can be experienced in a number of ways, including throbbing, stabbing, hurting, pinching, and even numbness. In some cases it may be simple like a mild headache and in some, it’ll be debilitating discomfort all over! Pain is the body’s warning signal and we usually stop aching once the body recovers. However, for many people, the agony continues long after the cause has disappeared.

Physiologically, our body manifests two kinds of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain is frequently intense and short, indicating that your body has been injured. Chronic pain can range from mild to severe, lasts for a long period, and is usually caused by a disease that need ongoing treatment. Chronic pain affects 20% of the Indian population, with women making up 70% of those affected.

Woman in Chronic Pain - Manage

How can you identify chronic pain?

While the pain may be constant, there may be acute pain flare-ups as stress or activity levels increase. Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • joint pain
  • muscle aches
  • burning pain
  • fatigue
  • sleep problems
  • loss of stamina and flexibility, due to decreased activity
  • mood problems, including depression, anxiety, and irritability

Chronic pain can make it difficult to do the things you want and need to do in your everyday life. It can make you feel angry, sad, worried, and agitated, as well as impair your self-esteem. The 4 most common forms of chronic pain are:

  1. Chronic Back Pain

This discomfort is most frequently felt in the lower back, can be caused by an accident or develop gradually as a result of arthritis, osteoporosis, or general wear and tear. The frequency of low back pain in India is particularly alarming, with more than 60% of Indians suffering it at some time in their life.

  1. Chronic Joint Pain

One of the most frequent types of chronic pain is joint pain, which can be caused by an accident, an infection, or just becoming older. Some frequent kinds include Osteoarthritis (common in the elderly), Rheumatoid Arthritis (an inflammatory condition that causes joint swelling), Repetitive Motion Injury (common in athletes), and others.

  1. Chronic Headaches

These are described as headaches that persist at least 15 days per month for at least three months. They begin as less regular occurrences but gradually change with time, creating a pattern. These can be caused by stress, anxiety, eye strain, migraines, cluster headaches, and other factors.

  1. Chronic Nerve Pain

This develops when nerves are compressed, damaged, or exposed to medications that strip the nerves of their protective outer layer (called the myelin sheath). Sciatica, diabetic neuropathy, and carpal tunnel pain are just a few examples.

When we think of serious health concerns, we may think about cancer, heart disease, diarrhoea, or pneumonia. These are, without a doubt, today’s big killers. Backaches, neck problems, and migraines, on the other hand, are usually not on our minds, but should definitely be. Despite its prevalence, pain is frequently under-treated and disregarded by health care institutions all throughout the world.

Here are 3 simple ways to deal with Chronic Pain:

  1. Meditation & Deep Breathing

Deep breathing and meditation are two practices that may help you relax your body and reduce discomfort. If you frequently struggle with chronic pain problems, learning and practicing meditation & breath-work is a necessity!

  1. Reduce Consumption of Alcohol & Smoking

Sleep is already difficult when you’re in pain, and consuming alcohol or smoking may aggravate the situation. If you suffer from chronic pain, drinking less or no alcohol and quitting smoking can help you live a better life.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise, especially yoga helps to relieve pain by strengthening muscles, which helps to avoid re-injury and discomfort. It also releases endorphins, a brain chemical, that makes you feel better while also suppressing pain signals.