September is Pain Awareness Month

Piper-Denise-web-02-2012Denise Piper, Noelridge Christian Church Parish Nurse

When we learn a person suffers from pain or chronic pain … what are our thoughts? Do we think “That’s too bad, I have pain too, and I just endure it?” or “Why don’t they quit complaining, take a deep breath and get on with life?” Perhaps there is more to chronic pain than we know.

What is chronic pain?

About 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. It is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months and can range from mild to excruciating. It may be inconvenient or totally incapacitating and may last months or years. This takes a toll both physically and emotionally.

Common sources of chronic pain are headaches, joint pain, backaches and injuries. It also effects certain areas of the body such as shoulders, neck and pelvis. It may begin with a trauma or infection. Diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia may be causes. And, at times, no specific reason for chronic pain development can be pinpointed.

The emotional toll can increase pain due to anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue. There is evidence that this type of pain can suppress the immune system, leading to other physical problems.

What are additional causes of chronic pain?

Seemingly simple factors may lead to chronic pain:

  • Years of poor posture
  • Improper lifting and carrying of heavy objects
  • Wearing high heels
  • Sleeping on a poor mattress
  • Normal aging that may affect bones and joints
  • Ordinary degenerative changes of the spine

Often the source of chronic pain is very complex and when considering the emotional toll, the treatment may be complex as well.

What are typical symptoms of Chronic Pain?

  •  Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Withdrawal from activity and need to rest
  • Changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, anxiety, irritability, and stress
  • Disability
  • Difficulty keeping up with work or home responsibilities

What are treatment options?

Chronic pain often needs both counseling and medical treatment because of the stress on mind and body. Some may benefit from visits to a pain clinic, where a multidisciplinary team approach is used to formulate treatment. Discuss any pain issues with your health care provider.

Do you know people who live with chronic pain?

With 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain, we no doubt know several, but are aware of only a few. Often this information is not shared. Look at people where you shop, work, and worship. They are there. You can give them a listening ear through your friendship. And assure them of prayers on their behalf.

One of the members of our Noelridge family has endured chronic pain for some time. He recently completed a three week pain management program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. In the near future, Dave Huovinen and his wife Cindy will share their journey through chronic pain with us. At this time, they are thankful for the prayers on their behalf, the knowledge of the professionals at the clinic, and the wonderful results.

Sources:

  • American Chronic Pain Association – www.theacpa.org
  • Mayo Clinic – ww.mayoclinic.org
  • WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise