If you’re struggling with chronic pain, finding the right treatment can be an overwhelming and daunting task. There are a variety of treatment options available which will be detailed on this pag
Included on This Page:
What is Chronic Pain?
Pain is your nervous system’s way of signaling that something might be wrong. It can be sharp or dull and usually presents as an unpleasant feeling. This could be an ache, sting, burn, tingle, or prick. Someone may feel pain in just one area or all over their body. There are two types of pain, acute pain and chronic pain.
Acute pain is your body’s way of telling you it’s injured. This pain typically doesn’t last for an extended time and should fade away as your body heals. Chronic pain lasts for a much more extended time and has the potential to last for many months or even several years. A one-time infection, injury, or an ongoing condition such as cancer or arthritis can cause chronic pain.
Chronic pain can interfere with someone’s ability to perform everyday activities and routines. Because the pain lasts so long, many people with chronic pain can also experience depression, low self-esteem, or anger. These psychological factors, along with environmental factors such as cold weather, can also cause chronic pain to worsen.
A National Health Interview Survey found that 20.5% of adults report feeling pain every day or most days. The most common pain locations were foot pain, hip, knee, or back pain. While people of any age can experience chronic pain, many older adults have this condition. Women also report having more chronic pain than men, and some people have two or more chronic pain conditions.
Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Symptoms of chronic pain can vary from mild to extremely severe pain that does not go away as expected. The cause can be an injury, illness, or the side effect of an ongoing health condition.
Chronic pain is typically described as one of these sensations:
Individuals with a binge eating disorder typically experience self-forced eating behaviors. They will eat or perceive they’ve eaten large amounts of food in a short period of time. After binging, however, they do not try to purge food or burn off calories with excessive exercise. Instead, they struggle with feeling uncomfortably full and can experience guilt, regret, shame, or depression.
Chronic pain has the potential to occur anywhere throughout the body. Someone with chronic pain may have one of these specific types of pain:
- Back pain
- Cancer pain
- Arthritis pain
- Pain resulting from nerve damage
Chronic pain can affect someone’s physical health, mental health, and relationships. This pain can cause other symptoms and problems that affect the individual’s life in various ways. These additional symptoms include:
- Mood changes related to anxiety or depression
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling tired
- Feeling guilty
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Substance abuse
- Family or marriage problems
- Work difficulties or job loss
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Doctors cannot pinpoint one particular cause of chronic pain. It can sometimes start with an injury, painful condition, or disease. Other times, there is no known cause for the pain experienced.
Conditions that may cause or trigger chronic pain include:
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Migraines or headaches
- Back problems
- Arthritis and joint problems
- Broken bones
- Lyme disease
- Ulcers or acid reflux
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Nerve damage
People with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are more likely to develop chronic pain. Most individuals with chronic pain find that depression and stress also tend to worsen their pain, creating a vicious cycle. Many experts believe that chronic pain is both a physical and mental condition and that people with it have a problem with their nervous system that causes them to feel pain differently.
Living With Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain can be difficult, and it is essential to properly take care of yourself to minimize your pain as much as possible. Lifestyle adjustments are a crucial part of a chronic pain treatment plan.
Many individuals with chronic pain find slight relief from their symptoms when they implement the following lifestyle changes:
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule – Having the same bedtime every evening and waking up around the same time every morning, as well as abstaining from naps so as not to throw off their sleep schedule.
- Quitting smoking – The nicotine in cigarettes can cause some medications to be less effective and impairs healing within the body. Regular smokers typically have more pain than nonsmokers.
- Eating a healthy diet – Healthy, nutritious foods can fuel the body to aid in healing and help the individual feel better and have more energy. Someone with chronic pain should focus on eating wholesome and nutrient-rich foods.
- Exercising moderately – Moderate exercise such as walking, swimming, and bike riding can help to improve blood flow and ease chronic pain symptoms. Many with chronic pain find that a regular moderate exercise routine helps them manage their pain.
Taking care of yourself is an integral part of living with chronic pain. Learn what is causing your pain, understand your physical limits, and be open to trying new strategies to manage your pain. Individuals with chronic pain should try their best to manage stress and depression, as these conditions can worsen pain.
When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much
People with chronic pain can become incredibly resilient after dealing with daily pain for extended periods. These individuals tend to build a high pain tolerance where typical aches and pains don’t bother them as much. Even so, living with chronic pain still tremendously impacts their daily lives.
What can someone do when chronic pain becomes too much? Some with this condition reach the point where chronic pain begins to impact their quality of life significantly, and the pain is so severe that they cannot work, maintain relationships, care for themselves, or find enjoyment in activities.
When someone gets to this point where they can’t find relief from their pain or function with it, it’s time to lean on some additional resources such as:
- Speaking with a therapist
- Joining a chronic pain support group
- Practicing mindfulness or mindset techniques
While using these resources might not reduce pain levels, they can certainly help manage one’s mental health and emotions affected by chronic pain. It’s easy to feel frustrated when chronic pain becomes too much to handle. Remember that you are not alone – there are therapists here to help you find hope for better days ahead.
Chronic Pain Management and Treatment
While chronic pain is not always curable, there are treatments and chronic pain management techniques that can help lessen an individual’s pain. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and improve the individual’s ability to function. Your healthcare provider will work with you to figure out the best treatment plan for you based on the source of your pain, symptoms, and history.
Commonly used chronic pain treatments include:
- Physical therapy
- Acupuncture and massage
- Occupational therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Nerve blocks
- Pain medications such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, muscle relaxants, and opioids
- Surgery to treat the original cause of pain
Most individuals with chronic pain find that any relaxation techniques they can incorporate to get their mind off their problems helps to manage their pain. Someone might need to utilize stress management techniques for several weeks before noticing any pain reduction. Relaxation can alter the chemicals in our body that produce pain and as a result, it can be incredibly beneficial for those who suffer from chronic pain.
Chronic Pain Treatment Options in Arizona
Many options exist for chronic pain treatment in Phoenix & Mesa at Mental Health Center of America. Our therapists use evidence-based treatment options for chronic pain management to help you feel better and improve your chronic pain symptoms.
Treatment options offered include:
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Relational Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Trauma-Focused Therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Interventions
Our therapists collaborate with each client to choose an approach to treatment based on your individual needs and goals and create a custom treatment plan with you. Chronic pain treatment options may incorporate individual therapy, medication, and neurofeedback.
Chronic pain management also integrates self-care and wellness activities such as cold exposure, heat exposure, mindfulness, and physical activity. Individuals living with chronic pain who commit to therapy typically experience positive results and learn chronic pain management techniques to help them manage symptoms and enjoy life.
Find Counseling for Chronic Pain Treatment and Therapy in Phoenix & Mesa, Arizona
Chronic pain can be debilitating if you don’t seek out proper treatment. At Mental Health Center of America, we provide chronic pain treatment that will improve your quality of life and allow you to reduce your chronic pain symptoms. We are proud to be a top provider of Arizona mental health services and have counselors in Phoenix and Mesa ready to help with chronic pain management today.
When chronic pain becomes too much, it can affect your ability to perform everyday functions. If you struggle with pain or experience depression or other mental health concerns because of your chronic pain, you may consider speaking with a mental health professional. Schedule your appointment today to start your healing journey.