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What is chronic pain?

Everybody feels pain.  Pain is a very personal experience. You may not experience the same kind or amount of pain from your injury as another person.  And there are lots of different kinds of pain.  After an injury, pain usually goes away.  But, when it doesn’t, we sometimes call this chronic pain.  Chronic pain lasts for weeks, months or years. Chronic pain is usually caused by an underlying disease or injury.  Your doctors may have to treat both your condition and your pain at the same time to provide relief.  

When chronic pain is caused by nerve damage, you might feel burning or prickling sensations.  Nerve damage can make people sensitive to temperature or touch. With nerve damage, very small things may trigger pain.

Chronic pain is also caused by damaged organs or tissues.  A disease called Peripheral Arterial Disease, poor circulation in legs and feet can lead to chronic pain.  

So, chronic pain can be caused by a lot of different things. What can you and your doctor do about it?

Traditional pain medications don’t work

Painkillers are not very useful in the treatment of chronic pain.  Because symptoms can last for so long, people will often build up resistance to pain medications.  This means they won’t work as well as they once did.  At larger doses, pain medications can cause damage to respiratory, digestive and other systems in the body.  Prolonged use of opioid medications can also lead to addiction.  In high doses, people using opioid painkillers are often unable to lead satisfying lives. For these reasons, doctors look for other ways of treating chronic pain.

Neurostimulation for chronic pain

Nerves function like electric wires in your body. They send signals, including pain signals, to and from the brain.  Because electrical impulses can interfere with chronic pain signals, doctors may recommend trying a neurostimulation device.  Neurostimulation devices work by sending very small electrical impulses through your body. These small impulses can help to interrupt the chronic pain signals being sent to the brain.

Other solutions

Chronic pain may respond to changes in your lifestyle.  Changes in diet or exercise may improve or worsen your symptoms.  You should try to keep good notes and talk to your doctor about what works and what doesn’t.  With the right combination of treatments, you and your doctor may find a way to successfully manage your chronic pain.


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