Most people experience pain, mostly acute, which normally has a specific cause and disappears on its own. But some pain without an obvious cause lingers for six months or more, progressively becoming chronic and interfering with your daily life. Therapy and certain medicine like ketamine may help reduce its symptoms.
Chronic pain in the U.S.
Chronic pain is a serious problem for U.S. adults. Based on the National Health Interview Survey of 2019, 20.4 percent of adults reported chronic pain, with 7.4 percent of adults stating they experienced chronic pain which limited their ability to work in the previous three months. Instances increased with age and were highest for adults 65-years old and older. It’s also a problem for adolescents, affecting nearly five percent of children under 18-years of age.
It’s a global problem, too
Chronic pain also is a huge public health concern around the world. The World Health Organization says chronic pain affects 1.5 billion people globally and is worsening as people age. The leading causes of chronic pain are normally caused by arthritis, nerve damage, and cancer.
Chronic pain is a growing public health concern in the U.S., “costing an estimated $560 billion each year” related to medical care, lost productivity, or disability, according to a 2011 report.
Acute pain vs. chronic pain
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap — sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.”
Symptoms of chronic pain
Chronic pain can vary between mild and severe. It may continue for days, weeks, months, or come and go. The pain is often described as:
- Dull aching
If any of these sounds familiar, you may be experiencing chronic pain. The severity and duration of the symptoms drive many people to seek professional care, with treatment depending on your physical and mental health, environmental, family history, and other factors.
What causes chronic pain?
Chronic pain may have begun after an illness or injury, and even though you seem to have recovered, the pain continues. Or there could be an enduring cause of pain, like arthritis or cancer. Many people experience chronic pain even without proof of any previous injury or sign of illness.
Tips for coping with chronic pain
- Learning to do business with stress in healthy ways can empower you to control your chronic pain symptoms.
- Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. By focusing on little improvements, you can show a change in your perceived comfort level.
- Distracting yourself from pain by participating in enjoyable activities may help underscore the better parts of your life. Self-isolation can be harmful and worsen the symptoms of chronic pain.
- Going through the daily challenges of chronic pain can be trying, particularly if you’re going it alone. Reach out to someone who can communicate and understand your ups and downs.
Diagnosing chronic pain
A physical exam is the first step in diagnosing chronic pain. You’ll be asked for specific details and to rate it on a scale from one to 10. Your doctor also may recommend blood tests, an electromyography to check muscle activity, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, and nerve conduction studies, among others.
Ketamine for chronic pain
Research indicates that ketamine may improve how neurotransmitters like glutamate in the brain function and send pain sensations throughout our bodies. Understanding neurological structures and their role in chronic pain is the key to providing effective therapy.
Chronic pain can be devastating for your emotional and physical well-being. The exact cause may be unknown, but research has found therapy to reduce or eliminate the symptoms, such as psycho and physical therapy and medicine like ketamine.
If you or a loved one have questions about the clinical use of ketamine we can help. Contact us today to get your questions answered and to see if you would be a good candidate for this treatment alternative.