What Is Chronic Pain?

What Is Chronic Pain?Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than three months. The pain may be constant, or it may come and go. Any part of your body can have chronic pain as a result of a fall, a car accident, or any other type of accident. Often, chronic pain lingers even after you have had all the medical procedures and treatments possible to fix and rehabilitate your injuries.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic pain can affect every part of your life including your relationships with family and friends, your ability to earn a living, and your ability to perform daily tasks. Sleeping, eating, and just moving can be difficult. Many accident victims who have chronic pain also suffer from anxiety, depression, irritability, and other emotional problems.

While the definition of chronic pain may change, one thing never does: if a property owner, driver, or anyone else negligently caused your chronic pain, you have the right to file a personal injury claim seeking damages for your pain and suffering, plus your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

Who develops chronic pain?

Chronic pain is fairly common. About one in four people in America live with chronic pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Sometimes that pain is the result of arthritis or other debilitating conditions. Often, though, it is the result of an accident or injury.

Certain types of injuries and accidents may leave victims more susceptible to chronic pain:

What are the signs and symptoms of chronic pain?

Some of the physical signs of chronic pain include aches, burning sensations, stiffness, stinging, shooting pains, squeezing, throbbing, and a stinging sensation.

Some of the emotional signs of chronic pain include anxiety, fatigue, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), mood swings, and depression.

How is chronic pain diagnosed?

Pain is a symptom. In order to treat the pain, physicians try to understand the root cause of the pain. Pain is also subjective which means health providers rely on the patient to say where they’re hurting, the type of pain they have, and how severe it is. You can’t X-ray pain like you can X-ray broken bones. Health providers normally ask some of the following questions to diagnose your chronic pain:

  • Where is the pain located?
  • On a scale of 0-10, how severe is the pain?
  • Is there anything that makes the pain better or worse?
  • How much is the pain affecting your work?
  • How much is the pain affecting your life?
  • How often does the pain occur?

The health provider will also ask you to describe the accident you were in and what medical care such as surgeries you’ve had since the accident.

Some of the diagnostic tests doctors use to determine the cause of the pain may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Spinal fluid tests
  • An electromyography which tests your muscles
  • X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to determine what conditions may be causing the pain
  • A nerve conduction study
  • Balance and reflex tests

What is the treatment for chronic pain?

The first step is to try to determine the cause of the pain. Treating the cause can then help eliminate or reduce the pain. If the exact cause of the pain isn’t clear (for example, you fell and your back hurts, but there’s no sign of disc damage or other back damage), then your health providers should work to treat the pain as best as they can. The treatments vary depending on the site of the pain, the severity, your age and health, and other factors.

Strategies for treating chronic pain include:

  • Medications. These drugs include, according to the Cleveland Clinic, anticonvulsants (to prevent seizures) for nerve pain, antidepressants, corticosteroids, muscle relaxers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and products that can be applied to the skin that feel warm or cold, and sedatives.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This treatment provides electric impulses through patches on your skin.
  • Nerve blocks. Here, the physician “injects an anesthetic near the site of your pain to reduce feeling in the area.”
  • Epidural steroid injections. This treatment injects an anti-inflammatory medicine (a steroid) “into the space around your spinal nerves known as the epidural space to treat chronic pain caused by irritation and inflammation of spinal nerve roots.”
  • Spinal cord stimulators. These devices are implanted into a person who has spinal cord damage. The patient is able to control the area of their body that is causing pain.
  • Physical and occupational therapy. Skilled professionals can help you with exercises, strategies, and assistive devices to help you manage your pain.

A few alternative treatments include acupuncture, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and other strategies.

Medications and treatments do have risks which you should review with your healthcare provider. Some risks are emotional. Other risks are physical. Some of the risks include acute liver failure, infections, and mood swings. Doctors need to be extra careful when they prescribe opioids because these medications are very addictive.

Patients who are having emotional difficulties coping with their chronic pain may benefit from sessions with a psychologist.

At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Memphis personal injury lawyers understand just how devasting injuries can be. We understand how much even little aches and pains can prevent you from enjoying life. We work with you and skilled healthcare professionals to show what injuries you have and why they’re causing you so much agony. We seek compensation for all your pain and suffering – even when the pain lasts for the rest of your life. To learn what rights you have to damages, call our Memphis or Jackson office at 901-475-7434 or completing our contact form to schedule an appointment.