What is Chronic Pain?
What is Chronic Pain? It is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Chronic pain is complex which occurs in a body part without actual tissue damage, and often multiple sites of chronic pain may exist at the one time, such as temporomandibular disorder and irritable bowel syndrome. This does not mean that it is not real, but that there is a lot more to pain than we currently understand. How can soldiers and policemen, and even ex-president Regan have horrific injuries, and swear that they felt nothing at the time? The brain is usually on our side, and dampens down the experience for some people so that we can do what we have to get done.
Other people are not so lucky, and their brains are sending them constant messages that there is pain, and something is wrong. They no longer have the ability to tone down how the brain perceives pain. We need to discover how to help those people to tone down their brains danger signals. Being able to do this means that we need to target multiple body sites, and treatment modalities. We need to target both the sensory and emotional aspects of the pain.
The Epidemiology of Chronic Pain
The origins of chronic pain are multiple and can begin even before birth. As we age other factors may come into play that may exacerbate of sustain a painful state. These may include sleep, diet, behavioral and emotional traits, as well as some medical conditions. (see this link).
Treatment of chronic pain involves identifying and modifying these factors. It is very important that the person with the pain understands all of these processes, and knowledge is the first step. Finding all of the factors can be a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, but with patience and effort the picture starts to form.
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