Understanding Chronic Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

peakhwChronic Pain, Pain Relief

chronic pain treatment

Just about everyone feels pain now and then. It’s your body’s way of alerting you to a problem. When you cut your finger or pull a muscle, the pain subsides once the injury heals. 

However, chronic pain is different. Your body can hurt weeks, months, or even years after the injury. Doctors commonly define chronic pain as anything lasting 3-6 months or more. 

According to studies, chronic pain affects nearly 11-40% of the general population. It is a complex condition that can severely impact your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. The pain can range from mild to severe and is experienced on most days. 

But is chronic pain manageable? Fortunately, yes.

A Complete Guide to Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is usually untreatable, meaning it does not go away. That said, you can manage it with a combination of strategies that work for you. The first step is to understand your pain, what causes it, and how to keep it in check.

1. Causes of Chronic Pain

In some cases, chronic pain has an obvious cause. For example, you may have a long-standing illness (like arthritis or cancer) that results in continuous pain. 

Injuries and diseases can also make your body more sensitive to pain. These changes can last even after you heal from the original health issue, like a broken bone or a brief infection. 

But that’s not all. Many people experience chronic pain without any prior injury. While the exact causes aren’t well understood, this type of pain can occur from: 

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Extreme, prolonged weariness often accompanied by pain. 
  • Endometriosis: A painful condition occurring when the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. 
  • Fibromyalgia: A disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain, tiredness, and sleep/memory/mood issues. 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Causes painful, chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Interstitial Cystitis: A painful condition marked by bladder pressure and pain. 

Chronic pain can stem from a gamut of causes. It’s best to work with a chronic pain management clinic to pinpoint the root of your issue and treat it as soon as possible. Our Utah pain management clinic can recommend a wide range of procedures to keep chronic pain under control.

2. Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can range from mild to severe, depending on your underlying conditions. Plus, it can continue for days or appear sporadically. For most people, the pain feels like: 

  • Throbbing 
  • Stiffness 
  • Soreness 
  • Stinging 
  • Squeezing 
  • Shooting 
  • Burning 
  • A dull ache 

Chronic pain can also be accompanied by several other symptoms, such as: 

  • Always feeling extreme fatigue 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Weakness 
  • A lack of energy 
  • Mood changes

3. Treatment Options

Chronic pain can interfere with your daily life, keeping you from things you want to do. The good news is, there are several ways to manage it. From over-the-counter/prescription drugs and mind/body chronic pain management techniques to acupuncture, the choices are endless.  

A word of caution. No single chronic pain management technique is guaranteed to offer complete pain relief. You can use multiple treatment options together to feel better. 

Here are a few conventional treatment options for chronic pain.

1. Drug Therapy

You can relieve milder chronic pain with OTC medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen). Topical pain relievers like creams, lotions, and sprays can relieve pain and inflammation from sore muscles and arthritis. 

In case OTC medicines don’t work, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication like muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and a shorter course of high-dose painkillers.  Some types of joint pain can be treated with a limited number of steroid injections at the site of the problem. Talk to a professional at a reputable chronic pain management clinic to understand your options before you commit to a treatment plan.

2. Trigger Point Injections

This procedure treats painful muscle areas containing trigger points or knots where the muscles don’t relax. A healthcare professional uses a small needle to inject a local anesthetic (sometimes with a steroid) into a trigger point and alleviate the pain. A brief course of this treatment can lead to sustained relief. Trigger point injections are often used to treat chronic pain in the limbs, neck, and lower back. A pain management clinic in Utah may recommend this course for painful conditions that don’t respond to other treatments.

3. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help relieve pain by using special chronic pain management techniques that improve movement and impaired function caused by an injury or disability. A physical therapist can use stretching, strengthening, and other pain-relieving tactics to aid their treatment plan.

4. Exercise

Believe it or not, too much rest can worsen chronic pain and put you at greater risk of injury when you attempt to move again. Research suggests that regular exercise can help you control pain in the long term by enhancing muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. Exercise is also known to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. 

A few low-impact exercises you can try with chronic pain include: 

  • Tai chi 
  • Yoga 
  • Swimming 
  • Walking 
  • Biking 
  • Walking 
  • Rowing 

5. Pain Treatment Clinics

While some people can manage chronic pain themselves, others might need extra help. That’s where pain relief clinics come in. 

A pain management clinic is a special care center devoted to managing intractable pain. They usually employ physicians, psychologists, and physical therapists to alleviate pain and teach you to function despite your condition. 

At Peak Health and Wellness, we provide patients with a comprehensive range of pain relief options and minimally invasive procedures for multiple chronic pain conditions. Our interventional pain management treatments include: 

  • Cervical steroid injections 
  • Caudal steroid injections 
  • Hip or shoulder joint injections 
  • Celiac Plexus Block 
  • Radiofrequency and Thermal Ablations 
  • Occipital Nerve Block for headaches 
  • Costovertebral Block 
  • Discography 

We also use opioid and non-opioid medication therapy to help you maintain the quality of your life and manage symptoms hassle-free.

The Bottom Line

Being diagnosed with chronic pain may seem like the end of the world, but it’s not. Thanks to advances in medicine, there are plenty of ways for you to lead a balanced, fulfilling life nonetheless. The goal is to actively manage your symptoms regularly and see a pain management specialist as necessary. That’s it! The team at Peak Health & Wellness takes a customized, compassionate approach to patient care. We use multidisciplinary chronic pain management techniques to deliver comprehensive treatment strategies to patients. Contact our pain management clinic in Utah to know more.