Living with Chronic Pain

5 Common Questions About Chronic Pain

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What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than six months. The pain may or may not be constant; however, it does interfere with activities and daily life.

What is a pain management program?

A pain management program provides individuals with various skills and tools to better manage chronic pain. A cure is not promised with such programs, but quality of life typically improves. Moreover, individuals with chronic pain can gain more control of their lives.

How can a person with chronic pain help others understand their pain?

Because friends and family cannot feel the pain their loved one experiences, it is often difficult for them to understand. It is important to learn communication skills that can help others understand and empathize with the situation. Acknowledging and sharing the symptoms and emotions experienced throughout the individual’s chronic pain journey can be difficult, but it is imperative for the maintenance of important relationships.

Are prescription pain medications addictive?

While some prescription pain medications can be addictive, taking them as prescribed by a physician lessens the chance of addiction. If an individual has never had an addiction disorder or abused pain medication, the risk of addiction is decreased. There are non-addictive medication options available to treat pain depending on the type of pain the individual experiences.

When the initial dose of a medication is no longer effective, a drug tolerance may have occurred. Tolerance does not mean addiction. Tolerance is a physiological response to the medication. A change in either the dosage or medication can deal with this problem. Talk with a physician about any concerns about pain medications.

What can an individual expect from a visit with a pain management specialist?

When visiting a pain management specialist, be prepared with a list of questions, a detailed pain log, and a summary report from previous doctors. The pain specialist will then be able to spend more time assessing the chronic pain condition and developing a treatment plan. The specialist may ask about symptoms that seem unrelated to pain, such as sleep patterns, stomach symptoms, emotional status and bowel symptoms. After obtaining a medical history and performing a physical exam, the physician may order blood tests and medical imaging tests. These tests will help to tailor an individualized treatment plan. The plan may include medical procedures, medications, physical therapy and psychological treatment.

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