Many of my patients ask me about ways to manage their pain when it is considerable.
This is a valid question and I can’t help but empathize with them.
I have had significant bouts of low back pain throughout my life since the age of 12.
If you haven’t had chronic pain, consider yourself very fortunate. If you have lived with chronic pain, you know what I’m talking about.
Chronic pain, whatever the origin, can be all-consuming.
It affects your relationships, your work, your sleep, cognitive abilities and overall state of being.
What’s worse is that chronic pain perpetuates itself.
In neurology, there is a phenomenon called synaptogenesis.
In this case, the body sends more nerve fibres to an area that is painful, thereby intensifying the pain.
The body thinks its master is not listening and turns up the volume.
In addition, there is another phenomenon called neural field recruitment in which the body morphologically changes the nervous system to interpret and intensify the pain if chronic enough.
One of the greatest services I can provide to patients is to validate their pain and allow them an arena in which their state is acknowledged and seen as real. If the pain is significant and long enough, as an individual, you’ll feel like you’re losing your mind.
I would not be exaggerating if I were to say that I have had patients presented to me who are suicidal as a result of their pain.
The pain that chronic pain sufferers are experiencing is very real and cannot be ignored.
So what do you do?
We are raised in a society that believes that a pill can fix anything.
In some instances, the use of medication is correct and necessary.
I try to change this thought process by telling them that, for example, you do not have headaches because you have a Tylenol deficiency.
We need to find the very genesis of your pain and address that issue.
Pain should get the attention it deserves. A thorough examination and history should always, always precede any diagnosis or proposed treatment plan.
When is it worse? What makes it better? What makes it worse? Is it worse in the morning or evening? Does the pain wake you at night?
I am sorry to say that for chronic pain, there is no quick fix in most cases.
If a quick fix is what you have been trying to obtain all along, well…maybe that’s why it’s still there and now chronic.
Moreover, it is important to understand that pain serves a purpose.
It is tantamount to our species for survival.
Essentially, it is telling us, “Something is wrong. Please fix it.”
To merely throw aspirin, acetaminophen or the like at pain and expect it to help indefinitely is like putting paint on rust.
If you are going to take pain killers, I say save it for a rainy day and do not use it daily to prevent or correct pain.
Logically thinking, if you are in chronic pain, something is drastically wrong.
Pain killers are not corrective or therapeutic.
They just remove the perception of pain, not its genesis.
I haven’t even began to discuss the long term effects of these medications and how they may hurt you.
Find it. Fix it. Leave it alone.