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There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain is the pain you feel immediately after an injury. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts beyond the expected period of healing for an illness or injury.
We’re learning that even low grade chronic pain can affect every aspect of your life. Patients suffering from chronic pain are often at risk for developing further complications, including altered mental states and physical dysfunctions. Studies show the brain reacts differently to short-term acute pain than it does to long-term chronic pain.Science Daily
The constant assault of chronic pain can affect your life in a number of ways. According Perry G. Fine, MD of the Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine, Pain Research Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, in the Long-Term Consequences of Chronic Pain include:
- sleep disturbances
- cognitive processes and brain function
- mood/mental health
- cardiovascular health
- sexual function
Chronic pain can influence your thoughts, feelings, sleep patterns, memory, concentration, and relationships.
Chronic pain causes sleep disturbances
Your skeletal muscles possess the amazing ability to completely regenerate following injury. Muscles and tissues repair during sleep.Science Direct However, pain disturbs your sleep. This sets up a catch-22. Sleep helps your body heal. You need good quality sleep so your body can heal, but because you’re in pain, you can’t sleep.
According to SleepFoundation.org,
We know that pain triggers poor sleep. For instance, someone experiencing lower back pain may experience several intense microarousals (a change in the sleep state to a lighter stage of sleep) per each hour of sleep, which lead to awakenings. However, microarousals are innocuous for a person not experiencing chronic pain. Pain is a serious intrusion to sleep. Pain is frequently associated with insomnia and these coexisting problems can be difficult to treat. One problem can exacerbate the other.
Chronic pain affects cognitive processes and brain function
If you’re in chronic pain, you’re not operating at your cognitive best. Cognitive processes such as memory and attention have been shown to be impaired in up to two thirds of patients with chronic pain.Oxford Academic A comparative study assessed the cognitive functions in adults with chronic pain. Forty participants had chronic pain and 29 were pain-free. The chronic pain participants performed significantly worse than the pain-free participants on the cognitive measures of long-term memory, selective attention, processing speed, and executive functioning. Significant differences between groups were evident in all cognitive domains. NCBI: Chronic Pain
Chronic pain affects mood/mental health
The emotional effects of chronic pain include:
- Anxiety, and
- Fear of re-injury
Chronic pain can influence your thoughts, feelings, memory, concentration, and even connections with others. Living with chronic pain can affect your mood, making you more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and fear. Chronic pain can has been demonstrated to sleep disturbances, depression, and a heightened risk of suicide.NBCI Such mood disorders can also promote a dependence upon prescription medications designed to treat the pain, such as opioids. The more scared, alone or sad you feel, the more likely you are to depend upon medications which temporarily mask the pain by providing a “euphoric” feeling. However, when the effects of the medication wear off, the negative feelings return. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, this is yet another catch-22 cycle you can find yourself in.
Chronic pain affects cardiovascular health
Chronic pain can lead to a chronic stress reaction that causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. This stress reaction can lead to harmful health effects, such as a reduced ability to fight off illnesses and diseases. It also can increase the risk for conditions such as heart disease.Cleveland Clinic
Chronic pain affects sexual function
Chronic pain may interfere with your sexuality because of the pain itself. However, other factors associated with your chronic pain, including mood disorders, decreased sex drive (libido), medications or stress, can also affect your sexual function Mayo Clinic.
You may not have to suffer with chronic pain.
Let’s be honest, there is no “one size fits all” solution to chronic pain. (This type of thinking has lead to the opioid crisis.) However, there are many drug free therapies and modalities which can dramatically reduce and even eliminate chronic pain. There are even things you can do at home to help relieve your chronic pain. If you live in or near Stuart, Florida, contact Dr. Danielle at Advanced Wellness Solutions to see how she can help relieve your chronic pain.