What is chronic pain and how should I deal with it?
Pain is something we’ve all experienced and is necessary for our survival. Acute pain warns us of potential injury and is the response to short-term illness or injury. The causes usually can be diagnosed and treated, and the pain eventually ends.
When the pain doesn’t end, it becomes chronic. The causes of chronic pain are not always clear. Recent research indicates it involves more than just the physical aspects of your original illness or injury. Accumulating scientific evidence suggests chronic pain has something to do with how the brain processes pain.
Medications used to treat chronic pain often target inflammation and can be used in combination with opioids. But these medications come with side effects and potential addictive properties. That’s why we advocate for mind and body approaches to complement or replace conventional medicine for managing chronic pain.
Lower back pain, arthritis, cancer, migraines, fibromyalgia, endometriosis and inflammatory bowel disease are conditions that often involve chronic pain. Persistent pain can severely limit your ability to function and can lead to depression and anxiety.
What are rebound headaches?
Rebound headaches are caused by frequent use of headache medications. Although pain relievers help alleviate occasional headaches, taking them more than a couple of days per week may trigger rebound headaches.
• Occur daily
• Improve with pain medication but return as medication wears off
• Persist throughout the day
• Worsen with physical or mental exertion
Why do rebound headaches occur?
Scientists suspect the way certain pain pathways and receptors work in the brain are altered by regular use of headache medications. Risk factors for developing rebound headaches include:
• History of chronic headaches: including migraines and tension-type headaches
• Frequent use of headache medications
Any acute headache medication has the potential to lead to rebound headaches, but some create higher risks than others:
• Aspirin and acetaminophen, especially if the amount you ingest exceeds the recommended daily dosage
• Over-the-counter combination pain relievers that contain caffeine, aspirin and acetaminophen (Excedrin, for example)
• Prescription medications such as Fioricet and Fiorinal
• Various migraine medications (Imitrex, Zomig and Ergomar, for example)
• Painkillers derived from opium or synthetic opium compounds of codeine and acetaminophen (Tylenol with codeine No. 3 and No. 4, for example)
Daily doses of caffeine may fuel rebound headaches, and you may be ingesting more than you realize from coffee, soda, pain relievers or other products. We encourage you to read product labels to be sure you’re not taking in more than you realize.
What’s the connection between pain and sleep?
People with chronic pain, fibromyalgia or headaches frequently have sleep difficulties, but that doesn’t make sleep any less important.
Poor sleep or a lack of sleep reduces your ability to think logically and pay attention to details. It also puts you at greater risk for mood swings, obesity, heart disease and depression. Quality sleep, on the other hand, boosts your immune system, intellectual function, overall cardiovascular health and keeps growth and stress hormones in proper balance.
Here are some ways to improve your quality of sleep:
• Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning
• Avoid napping during the day
• Sleep in a dark and quiet environment
• Exercise daily (but not within two hours of bedtime)
• Limit use of electronics before bed; do not watch TV in bed
• Do not eat large meals or snacks before bedtime
• Avoid alcohol, nicotine and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day
Who can I contact if I have follow-up questions about my pain?
If you’ve been a Pain Center patient, you’ll always be a part of The Pain Center family. So if you ever have a question about a flare-up or another pain-related issue, please contact us. We’d be happy to help.
What do patients say about The Pain Center?
Many of our patients have been happy to share their experience with The Pain Center. Below are a few examples of patient testimonials.
“Because of the treatment I received at The Pain Center, I am now working again. Fear isn’t preventing me anymore from doing things that I know I can do. I am not 100% pain free, but I am by far better emotionally because of this program. This program is different from other forms of treatment because it provides you with both physical and emotional treatment. The program has helped me set appropriate goals for myself, and has focused on educating me about my condition, which has resulted in far better treatment than anything else I have tried in the past.” – Garrett W.
“This program has helped me learn how to control my fibromyalgia in of it controlling me. I am more active now then I have ever been in the past. Now that I have completed the fibromyalgia program, I am able to train to run the 25K at the Fifth Third River Bank Run. I also plan to continue to run and eventually run in a marathon. This program is different than other things I have tried in the past. The therapists worked with me instead of making me feel like nothing can be done. This program let me know that my pain isn’t just something that is made up, and that there is something I can do to control it.” – Cindy A.
“The program at Mary Free Bed has given me my life back. Teresa, the physical therapist, told me that I would be able to get back to snowboarding and everything that I enjoyed doing before. I was so excited! I have learned to pace myself and plan my days better so that I can manage the pain instead of the pain controlling me. My life can be full, active and fun with a bit of good planning and pacing. I am now able to go through a day without the wall falling on me. My family has noticed that my moods are better and I am back enjoying life. I am now able to be kind to myself, which is a new concept for someone who is a perfectionist. Mary Free Bed’s program addresses all areas of your life. The education of what fibromyalgia is, and the options of treatment gave me a feeling of control in my treatment. The coping skills and stress reduction have been a huge benefit for me. I am so thankful that I found Mary Free Bed. My life would not be the same without them. I would recommend this program to everyone who wants to get their life back! Thank you Mary Free Bed family.” – Sharease B.
“This program has given me the knowledge I need to learn to manage my pain, and has shown me the correct exercises to do. It also taught me the correct way to lift and carry thing, which can prevent further pain or injury. Because of the treatment I have had at The Pain Center, I am now able to stand for a longer amount of time and walk further distances without as much pain. This program is different than other treatment I have had in the past because it focused on treating my whole body, and every aspect of my pain. ” – Donna S.
“The fibromyalgia program has given me my life back. Before the program, I felt as if the pain would keep getting worse with no hope of improvement, but now I completely control of my pain. I am now training for my first 5K walk/jog. I was never one to view exercise as a hobby, but I now look forward to my workouts because of how much better they make me feel. This program is comprehensive and treats the mind, body and soul. The fibromyalgia program empowers the patient to be in control of their progress and recovery.” – Jennifer W.