Living with constant pain is challenging and a burden for many people. What starts as a small annoyance might become something persistent, directly affecting the quality of life of those who deal with this condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 30% of the world population complains of chronic pain. However, what actually characterizes this condition?
Chronic pain is the one that persists for more than three months, according to most criteria. However, there are other indications that, in some cases, this period is longer and may be around six months.
Roseni Lopes Bueno, anesthesiologist and the physician invited by Prati-Donaduzzi Pharmaceutical Industry to clarify the issue, explains that chronic pain is considered a dysfunction of the somatosensory system, which persists beyond the time of the injury. “Pain becomes the disease itself, and this affects people's quality of life”, she says.
Types of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain might manifest in any part of the body, in anyone, as it can have different causes, depending on its type. The type will primarily be determined by an assessment by a physician, based on physical and clinical examination.
Two main types are: neuropathic pain and nociceptive or somatic pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by a dysfunction of the nervous system, which can be in the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. The main causes can be linked to cases of cerebrovascular accident (CVA) and other nerve damage.
Nociceptive or somatic pain, on the other hand, is linked to an injury or inflammation of the skin tissues, which are detected by the nervous system as a threat. Possible causes include: burns; fractures; heavy blows; tendonitis; muscle contractures; infections.
Are there any treatments for chronic pain?
Treatment involves a lot of care and goes beyond just focusing on pain; it is also important to treat the cause for more satisfactory results. Drug treatment is indicated through the use of analgesics and can be combined with physical methods. In extreme cases, surgery is also considered a possibility.
The doctor says that physical therapy and other therapies such as acupuncture and radiofrequency are essential to ease the pain. “Improving the pain condition is essential for good rehabilitation”, reinforces the anesthesiologist.
The adoption of healthy habits such as practicing physical activities - which are in accordance with the doctor's recommendation, and a balanced diet, are also attitudes recommended by specialists to help improve the quality of life of people living with constant pain.