Chronic pain syndrome is complex and poorly defined. Most doctors consider pain that lasts longer than six months as diagnostic of chronic pain syndrome. It is a syndrome that consists of a variety of features which don’t always respond to a medical model. It often requires professionals from multiple disciplines to aid in treatment.
In addition to pain, which generally lasts “longer than it should,” patients are affected by many other conditions. These symptoms are often a result of the pain, and include the following:
- reduced activity
- reduction of libido
- dependent behavior (including drug and alcohol)
Leading to prolonged physical suffering, chronic pain may precipitate family problems, marital problems, job loss, and reactions from long-term medical treatment. Family members of patients who suffer from chronic pain are also at risk of suffering from both depression and anxiety.
Possible Causes of Chronic Pain Syndrome:
The causes of chronic pain syndrome are not well understood. There may be a psychological basis in learned behavior, as the original pain is rewarded, by sympathy or attention, reinforced, and then continues to occur without the stimulus of pain. Reinforcement may come from relief of factors that are derived from many emotions. This may include relief from responsibilities, guilt, and sex. Moreover, other factors include the attentiveness of the physician, compensation and time off from work, as well as medications.
Potential Physical Factors:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Lyme disease
- Reiter syndrome
- back problems
- polymyalgia rheumatic
- muscular strains and sprains
- chronic overuse syndromes
Lesser Known Conditions:
- brachial plexus traction injury
- cervical or lumbar radiculopathies
- spinal stenosis
- cutaneous nerve entrapment
- post herpetic neuralgia (shingles)
- migraine headaches
The Serious Effects of Pain
Chronic pain can affect your life in a variety of ways:
- Mental health changes
- According to a 2006 survey from the American Academy of Pain Medicine, almost two-thirds of people living with chronic pain have reported a decrease in overall happiness and 77 percent reported feeling depressed.
- Increased fatigue
- Pain can affect your daily functioning, resulting in decreased concentration, diminished energy levels, and difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Decreased job performance
- Chronic pain costs the U.S. more than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Health economists estimate that the cost of chronic pain may be as high as $635 billion a year, according to a report published in the Journal of Pain. We can only guess how many people have been limited in their professional advancement because of pain.
Seeing A Medical Doctor:
Your doctor will take a complete medical and psychosocial history, and will perform a thorough examination, including radiologic studies, if indicated. You will be asked the location of your pain, the triggers for the pain, how you obtain relief, the quality of the pain, severity, and radiation, if any, of the pain. Furthermore, focus carefully upon your answers, as this will help your physician with his treatment plan for you.
Some nonsurgical treatments that will help with chronic pain syndrome include physical therapy and occupational therapy. Both will often help the patient with activities of daily living. Similarly, psychological treatment to develop coping strategies, while treating concurrent depression and anxiety are an integral part of treatment in many patients. Biofeedback may help modulate the pain response. Changing the system of reinforcement has been shown to be effective in management of chronic pain patients.
Based on the patient’s needs, physical therapy is best used to build strength and flexibility. This is done gradually, so the patient does not have a fear of exercising. Other physical therapy techniques may include:
- application of heat or cold
- ultrasonographic therapy
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
Additionally, nerve blocks are used for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutics. Spinal cord stimulation is used to treat neuropathic pain and is also used to help patients with failed back syndrome and radicular pain.
Lastly, regenerative medicine has proven time and again that it is capable of healing and treating pain. Both Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) injections are nonsurgical alternatives.
The two injections are similar in that they use the patient’s own body to heal itself. PRP, for example, uses growth factors from the patient’s blood and BMC uses adult stem cells from the hip bone. Once the doctor removes the sample, they will place it into a centrifuge and separate the various layers. Next, the sample is injected into the injured site in order to promote natural healing.
Finally, if you are suffering from chronic pain, contact us so we can conduct a diagnosis and start you on a plan to relieve your pain. Our staff at Metropolitan Pain Consultants looks forward to hearing from you. You can contact us at (201) 729-0001. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West Orange, Aberdeen, Clifton, and Lyndhurst.