What is chronic pain?
Any pain that lasts beyond the expected period of healing is termed as chronic pain
How is it different from acute pain?
In acute injury, the amount of pain that you feel is proportional to actual or potential tissue damage. Acute pain has a protective function. If you accidentally place your hand over a hot stove the pain that you experience makes you pull your hand away instantly thus protecting it from harm. In chronic pain conditions, this one to one relationship between the amount of pain and tissue damage breaks down. The pain processing systems in your nervous system malfunction in such a way that you experience significant pain in situations where you should feel either no pain or very little pain. Chronic pain sufferers often find non harming mechanical stimuli such as touch, pressure and movement to be distinctly painful. It is somewhat akin to the engine light in your car coming on even when there is nothing wrong with the engine.
What causes chronic pain?
There is no single cause for chronic pain. Often changes that occur with normal ageing and wear and tear may cause chronic pain. Another cause of chronic pain is nerve damage or malfunction of the nervous system.
What are some examples of chronic pain?
Fibromyalgia, Myofascial pain syndrome, chronic whiplash injuries, Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS, formerly termed RSD), post operative pain lasting longer than 6 months, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and chronic neck and back pain are some examples of chronic pain conditions.
How can chronic pain be treated?
The treatment approach to chronic pain largely depends on what biological mechanisms are at play. The aim of most treatments is to desentisize the nervous system and promote active self management. Treaments at Acadia Physical Therapy may include but are not limited to:
Active exercise based approach
It is important to note that chronic pain often has a large psychological component. You may be referred for counselling to help manage your psychological distress.