Chronic Pain: What Is It and What You Can Do About It

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chronic pain

What do you think of when you hear the term chronic pain? Chronic pain affects almost 100 million Americans and is an important condition to identify and treat.

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, chronic pain is “ongoing or recurrent pain, lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than three to six months, and which adversely affects the individual’s well-being.” Chronic pain varies in intensity and frequency. Some experience chronic pain constantly while others only feel it in episodes.

If you feel any kind of consistent pain for six months, you most likely are suffering from chronic pain. Pain can originate from a wide variety of sources. When it comes to chronic pain, the main sources are:

  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Injury-related pain

Symptoms of Chronic Pain

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing chronic pain, you can start by asking yourself if you are experiencing these symptoms:

  • Constantly feeling any level of pain, mild to severe
  • Aching, shooting, or burning types of pain
  • Extended feelings of soreness, stiffness, or tightness

Aside from the obvious physical issues caused by chronic pain, many individuals also report psychological struggles, such as fatigue, mood changes, stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, or restless nights of sleep.

Just like one pain is not identical to another, one treatment does not fit every pain. If you are experiencing chronic pain, you may want to arrange a consultation with a pain management specialist.

What is Pain Management?

How can pain management help you? Pain management is a specialty service. Patients are referred to such a program to be diagnosed and treated for their pain. Your pain management specialist maintains clear communication with your primary care physician to provide you with continuity of care.

Trained pain specialists work closely with their patients for the pain diagnosis and coordination of an individualized treatment program to get you back to the activities of your daily life.

Pain management specialists use a multi-dimensional approach tailored to your diagnosis. These pain experts incorporate a combination of minimally invasive interventional procedures, hospital-based services and medication management when appropriate.

If your treatment plan includes prescription medications, your medications will be from one physician and one pharmacy. To ensure your safety, you will be asked to participate in urine drug screens and random pill counts.

Chronic pain can cause physical and psychological distress, and it can be particularly upsetting when there is no obvious cause or immediate remedy. But many times, a pain management specialist can help and provide relief.

Steven Baldridge, RN, is a staff educator at University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center.

Related Links

UH Pain Management Services is a multidisciplinary initiative that includes top-rated pain management doctors from anesthesiology, behavioral health, emergency medicine, pediatrics, primary care, surgery and UH Connor Integrative Health Network to treat and manage chronic pain. Learn more about Pain Management Services at University Hospitals.

Listen to our free webinars to learn more about chronic pain in adults, its causes and non-surgical and surgical treatments with Lisa Brown, MD, Comprehensive Pain Management at UH Geauga Medical Center and Kutaiba Tabbaa, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Pain Management Center at UH Parma Medical Center.

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