According to the CDC, over 20% of Americans experience chronic pain conditions, meaning that they live with sensations and symptoms of pain for weeks, months, and even years after the onset of an injury or disease in the body. Chronic pain conditions are multi-faceted, and they don’t just impact the tissues and surrounding areas where damage occurred, they also affect the thoughts, emotions, physiology, and ultimately the mental health and behavior of the individual.
Treating chronic pain successfully is just as complex and requires a comprehensive plan of action that includes psychological support and guidance. What does the experience of chronic pain look like, and how can you support a loved one with the condition?
The Dynamics of Pain
The sensation of pain in the body is actually a safety mechanism, designed to indicate a warning through the nervous system to let us know where an injury has occurred. After an injury, immune system cells are recruited to cause inflammation, which helps to clear damaged tissue and encourage repair. There should be a transition out of acute pain into a duller sensation until the area is healed, but for reasons that aren’t yet understood, pain signals will sometimes linger after healing and become a chronic condition. Chronic pain can be mild or severe, it can continue non-stop or come and go, and it can include anything from dull soreness and stiffness to hot and sharp burning, throbbing, and shooting sensations.
The Mental Impact of Pain
When you’re experiencing chronic pain, it can interfere with your ability to perform typical daily functions, including going to work, household tasks, interacting with family and friends, and can even compromise your ability to take care of yourself. Dealing with constant pain is very stimulating to the nervous system, the stress of which can be very depleting physically, energetically and mentally, while still leaving you too wound up and anxious to rest. Ultimately, it can affect the way you think and feel about yourself, and even changes your outlook on your future to one of hopelessness, leading to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety that can actually perpetuate the condition.
If you have a loved one who is experiencing a chronic pain condition, it’s essential for you to understand how to support them as they manage their experience. First, meet them with compassion and patience; it can feel isolating and frustrating to be less active and capable than they were before, and by holding space for those emotions with understanding, it can ease tension and let them know they’re supported and not alone.
Also, it can also be helpful to encourage treatment for the mental and emotional aspects of their pain, by seeking therapies that offer help for these aspects of the condition. Above all, know who to contact in the event of a crisis situation; there are many resources available in case of an emergency situation.
Is Chronic Pain Coloring Your Experience?
Chronic pain conditions can change the way you see yourself, your relationships, and your daily experiences, and will affect everything from your thoughts and feelings to how your body and mind operate on a physiological level. Getting the right support means seeking guidance for multiple levels of care, from the physical source of the problem with pain intervention to the mental and emotional impacts with psychological care. Aspire Pain Relief Institute knows your pain and can help you find the most efficient and comprehensive treatment plan. Call us today to learn more.