Managing Chronic Pain

What is chronic pain?

Pain is one of the common reasons most people decide to see a doctor in the first place. But still, most people are unfamiliar with the idea of chronic pain because they have been taught that pain usually disappears when body tissues heal from an illness or injury.

However, there are millions of people around the world suffering from chronic pain.

Indeed, according to Australian Pain Management Association, one in every five people in Australia continues to experience pain even after the healing process is complete. Thus, chronic pain is one of the most common health problems in Australia.

Although pain is unpleasant, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Its importance is that it alerts the body to some underlying problems. For example, chest pain can alert a person about an impending cardiac arrest.

However, chronic pain can negatively affect the quality of your life. The problem with chronic pain is that there is no straightforward way of treating it.

Chronic pain lasts longer, beyond the time you would expect an injury to heal. Chronic pain often does not indicate ongoing damage in our body – it’s like the alarm has been left on and someone’s turned the volume up. The pain is less to do with an injury to body tissue and more to do with what’s happening in our nervous system. Our nervous system can become sensitised and overactive, so that we continue to feel pain, even without any ongoing tissue damage.

In fact, there is no definitive cure for chronic pain in the existing medical literature. Consequently, the goal of treatment is not to alleviate it but rather to help patients to manage it so that their emotional and physical functioning can be restored.