Chronic Pain: What You Should Know

Chronic Pain

While pain may initially seem like an inconvenience, it has a tendency to stick around. Sometimes time and rest are not enough to eradicate pain. The longer it lasts, the more unbearable it can become until it affects every aspect of your life. Chronic pain, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc on your life. In this post, we will cover the various types of pain and how pain may be affecting you.

Three Types of Chronic Pain:

Nociceptive Pain:

  • Somatic – pain from bones, joints, skin, connective tissue
  • Visceral – pain from visceral structures

While you may not know each pain type by their medical names, you can usually identify them by certain markers. Somatic pain, for example, is caused by pain in either the body surface or musculoskeletal tissues. This form of pain is usually characterized as dull or aching. Somatic pain is frequently found in the shoulder, hip, and hand, but may occur in the lower back and buttocks.

A combination of factors may lead to somatic pain, such as abnormalities, inflammation, repetitive trauma, excessive activity, over stretching, amongst others. Generally speaking, activity triggers somatic pain and rest relieves it.

Visceral pain, on the other hand, stems from internal organ damage or injury.  This form of pain usually occurs in the chest, abdomen, or pelvic areas. Often times visceral pain is vague and described as pressure-like and dull. Problems associated with it includes: distention, perforation, inflammation, and impaction or constipation.

Neuropathic Pain:

  • Pain from nerve cells that are damaged in the central or peripheral systems
  • Does not respond to opioids
  • Can be more persistent and drug resistant than nociceptive pain

An injury or malfunction to the spinal cord and peripheral nerves causes neuropathic pain. It is typically a burning, tingling, stinging, shooting, or “pins and needles” type of sensation. Other patients report a stabbing, cutting, or piercing pain.

Neuropathic pain is inconsistent and occurs in waves over days, weeks, or months after initial injury. Neuropathic pain commonly occurs in the legs, back, feet, thighs, and toes. Some patients experience pain in their buttocks, hips, upper back, arms, hands, abdomen, and neck.

Mixed Pain:

  • Combination of both neuropathic and nociceptive pain

There’s no set combination of pain. Patients may experience any of the conditions discussed above.

How Chronic Pain May Be Affecting You:

Plunging Activity Levels:

Chronic pain can limit activity levels. Unfortunately, this can also lead to a reduction in overall health. While it can be a detriment to athletes, everyday individuals may suffer to worst. An athlete has the added benefit of a built in support group, but not everyone has this luxury. It is hard to keep up activities when there is nobody to help drive you.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, “an estimated 75 to 85 percent of all Americans will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime.” This pain may limit their activity in day to day operations. It holds true for people of all ages, from youths to the elderly. Chronic pain conditions may also increase the more unhealthy you become from a lack of activity.

In general, people have a tendency to overlook pain in youths. However, we previously wrote about chronic pain in teenagers and how it affects their lives. They may actually suffer more than others.

A Weakened Immune System:

In line with activity levels decreasing, pain is proven to weaken the immune system. The healing process dwindles and makes us less resistant to infection and disease.

Without a fully functional immune system, the body is vulnerable to pathogens and diseases. The system is an array of complex cells, tissues, and chemical messengers that construct a defense system against invaders and infection.

Think of your immune system that is piloted by “fight or flight.” If your body is in constant pain and the source does not alleviate, your immune system does not have the ability to fight back.

Concentration Levels Diminish:

If you are in chronic pain, you most likely focus on the pain and little else. This is quite understandable. However, situations like work and school do not stop for those in pain. An inability to concentrate can cause our personal and work lives unnecessary stress.

Unfortunately, a lack of concentration also affects memory. It is hard to memorize something when you are not concentrated on that particular piece of information.

If you are using opioids for your pain, this side effect can be more common. Opioids are already bad for your health, but memory loss from brain morphology is frightening as well. Those in pain and those using opioids report having difficulty concentrating.

Poor concentration and memory are linked to emotional distress, poor family support, and interference with daily activities.

What You Can Do:

Just because you currently suffer from chronic pain, it doesn’t mean you have to continue doing so. We offer many different treatments that could alleviate your pain and cure your injuries.  The following are brief summaries of each treatment:

BurstDR Stimulation:

BurstDR is a form of spinal cord stimulation. However it differs from traditional stimulators in that it mimics the brain’s natural responses to pain. BurstDR stimulator allows doctors to address both “physical pain and the way it affects you emotionally.”

When you are injured and experience pain, it’s because our nerves are sending signals directly to the brain. These signals tell the brain that something is wrong. BurstDR stimulator reduces pain by intercepting those pain signals as they travel to the brain.

Regenerative Medicine:

Regenerative medicine is a form of therapy that utilizes the patient’s own blood to heal injuries – thus removing pain in the process. We offer two forms of regenerative medicine at our offices: Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) therapies.

PRP and BMC are different in one significant way. Whereas PRP uses a blood sample (similar to a normal blood test), BMC uses stem cells from the patient’s hip bone. Both samples are then placed into a centrifuge where the contents are spun and separated. This allows the specialist to collect the desirables from the sample. Following this, the doctor will use an ultrasound machine for guidance and inject the sample back into the patient’s injured site. The returning sample floods the area with healing and growth factors that stimulate the body’s natural mechanisms to heal the injury.

If you are in pain, please contact us today at 201-729-0001 for an evaluation and consultation. Similarly, we can be reached by filling out this online form. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West OrangeAberdeenClifton, and Lyndhurst.

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